Baffin Island Fjord Macrobenthos: Bottom Communities and Environmental Significance


  • James P.M. Syvitski
  • George E. Farrow
  • R.J.A. Atkinson
  • P.G. Moore
  • J.T. Andrews



Animal distribution, Benthos, Bottom sediments, Fjords, Lamellibranchiata, Palaeoecology, Quaternary period, Sea level, Sedimentation, Baffin Island waters, Nunavut


Cluster analysis of the benthos from ten Baffin Island fjords defines six faunal associations. The macrotidal Sunneshine Fiord has a shallow kelp-related Isopod Association. Cambridge Fiord supports a shallow Onuphid Association controlled by gravel from dropstones. A widespread Portlandia Association typified the shallow zones of more recently glaciated fjords where sedimentation rates are high. An Ophiuroid-Anemone Association was defined from current-affected submarine channel environments. A Maldanid Association covered the greatest area in all fjords and passed into an Elasipod Association in the deepest water in Cambridge Fiord. Fjord-head faunas are used to model ecological changes accompanying glacier retreat, from monospecific Portlandia, through mature Portlandia Association to Onuphid Association accompanied by diverse filter feeders and herbivores. Chlamys islandica was found living in Cambridge Fiord, which substantially increases its northern limit.

Key words: macrobenthos, Arctic, cluster analysis, bivalve, Quaternary, sediment