Sediment samples and hydrographic conditions were studied at 28 stations around Iceland. At these sites, Conductivity−Temperature−Depth (CTD) casts were conducted to collect hydrographic data and multicorer casts were conducted to collect data on sediment characteristics including grain size distribution, carbon and nitrogen concentration, and chloroplastic pigment concentration. A total of 14 environmental predictors were used to model sediment characteristics around Iceland on regional scale. Two approaches were used: Multivariate Adaptation Regression Splines (MARS) and randomForest regression models. RandomForest outperformed MARS in predicting grain size distribution. MARS models had a greater tendency to over− and underpredict sediment values in areas outside the environmental envelope defined by the training dataset. We provide first GIS layers on sediment characteristics around Iceland, that can be used as predictors in future models. Although models performed well, more samples, especially from the shelf areas, will be needed to improve the models in future.
Brittle stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) comprise over 2,000 species, all of which inhabit marine environments and can be abundant in the deep sea. Morphological plasticity in number and shape of skeletal parts, as well as variable colors, can complicate correct species identification. Consequently, DNA sequence analysis can play an important role in species identification. In this study we compared the genetic variability of the mitochondrial cytochrome c subunit I gene (COI) and the nuclear small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU, 18S rDNA) to morphological identification of 66 specimens of 11 species collected from the North Atlantic in Icelandic waters. Also two species delimitation tools, Automatic Barcode Gap Discovery (ABGD) and General Mixed Yule Coalescence Method (GMYC) were performed to test species hypotheses. The analysis of both gene fragments was successful to discriminate between species and provided new insights into some morphological species hypothesis. Although less divergent than COI, it is helpful to use the SSU region as a complementary fragment to the barcoding gene.
Deep−sea benthic Ostracoda (Crustacea) in Icelandic waters are poorly known. Here we report deep−sea ostracode assemblages from the multiple core (MUC) and the epibenthic sledge (EBS) samples collected from Icelandic waters by the first cruise of the IceAGE (Icelandic Marine Animals: Genetics and Ecology) project. Samples from shelf − −edge and lower−bathyal working areas are examined. The results show (1) distinct MUC and EBS faunas due to the large difference in mesh size of MUC and EBS; and (2) distinct shelf−edge and lower−bathyal ostracode faunas. Such remarkable faunal turnover from shelf to bathyal depths is similar to the faunal turnovers reported from depth transects in the adjacent regions of the western North Atlantic Ocean, the Greenland Sea, and the North Sea, but, at the same time, there are certain differences in the faunal composition between the Icelandic waters and these adjacent regions. In addition, we illustrate many Icelandic deep−sea ostracode species with high−resolution scanning electron microscopy and composite all−in−focus stereomicroscopic images for the first time. These results provide important basic information on deep−sea ostracode research and biogeography of this important region connecting North Atlantic proper and Nordic Seas.