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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 303:167-175 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps303167

Ocean temperature oscillations enable reappearance of blue mussels Mytilus edulis in Svalbard after a 1000 year absence

Jørgen Berge1, *, Geir Johnsen1, 2, Frank Nilsen1, Bjørn Gulliksen1, 3, Dag Slagstad4

1University Centre in Svalbard, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway
2Norwegian University of Technology and Science, 7469 Trondheim, Norway
3Norwegian Fishery College, University of Tromsø, 9027 Tromsø, Norway
4SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, 7465 Trondheim, Norway

ABSTRACT: We report the first observations of settled blue mussels Mytilus edulis L. in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard for the first time since the Viking Age. A scattered population was discovered at a single site at the mouth of Isfjorden in August 2004. Our data indicate that most mussels settled there as spat in 2002, and that larvae were transported by the West Spitsbergen Current northwards from the Norwegian coast to Svalbard the same year. This extension of the blue mussels’ distribution range was made possible by the unusually high northward mass transport of warm Atlantic water resulting in elevated sea-surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and along the west coast of Svalbard.

KEY WORDS: Mytilus edulis · Arctic · Atlantic Water transport · Remote sensing · Simulatedtransport time · Sea-surface temperature · Temperature oscillations · Holocene

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