Posted on 21/08/2012 • News Categories: Featured News
During the summer, researchers from Akvaplan-niva have been in the field investigating the distribution and role of eelgrass in several fjords of northern Norway. Eelgrass is a vascular plant that covers the silt and clay bottom of areas of the coastal seafloor and serves as important habitat for juveniles of cod and other fish species. Fish as well as crustaceans and other small creatures rely on eelgrass as nursery grounds and for protection from predators. ‘We survey the fish communities and how they use the vegetation. We were surprised to find such large amounts of eelgrass as far north as 70 degrees latitude,’ said project lead Nina Mari Jørgensen, a Marine Biologist at Akvaplan-niva. The project is a contribution to the Fram Center Flagship research program,” Effects of climate change on sea and coastal ecology in the north.” It is carried out in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Institute of Marine Research, the University of Tromsø, Norut and the University of Groningen (Netherlands). When completed, it will improve the understanding of the role of eelgrass as a critical coastal marine habitat in Northern Norway.
Reductions in eelgrass habitat caused by human activities is also a global problem. The Norwegian program for mapping and monitoring of marine biodiversity addresses this problem by creating baseline maps and monitoring changes in eelgrass habitats throughout Norway. Akvaplan-niva participates in this National program and is responsible for Norway’s two northernmost counties, Troms and Finmark. ‘By preserving eelgrass habitats in Norway, we help maintain good conditions for growth and survival of coastal cod and other fish populations,’ says Jørgensen.
Learn more about Akvaplan-niva’s services connected to Biodiversity Monitoring & Protection.
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