Fish Communities

Fish communities in the Barents Sea.

Se map for more details.

Circles in the same colour have the same species composition. The size of the circle is proportional to the average number of species pr station. There are six different communities:

  • Pink: Coastal cold water community dominated by small arctic species like ribbed sculpin and Arctic alligator fish.
  • Yellow: South-east shallow water community with relatively few species, dominating species are long rough dab, haddock and cod.
  • Red: South-west coastal community with many species and high densities, dominating species are Norway pout, haddock, saithe.
  • Green: Atlantic communities. Dominated by cod and haddock.
  • Blue: Arctic area  that is covered with ice during winter, the fish community is dominated by small, Arctic species like liparids and bigeye sculpin.
  • Turquoise: High Arctic communities, deeper, Arctic waters dominated by small, arctic species like liparids and sculpins.

The six communities are separated along debts and temperature gradients. The coastal cold water community, the south-east shallow water community and the coastal warm water community is found in all shallow waters (< 200 m), while the High Arctic, Arctic and Atlantic community is common in areas with a larger depth (> 200 m). The High Arctic, Arctic and Costal cold water community mostly coincide with areas dominated by Arctic waters and that are covered in ice in the winter, while the other communities are found in areas dominated by Atlantic waters.

Both of the cold and warm water Coastal communities are generally more rich in species than the other communities. The coastal cold water communities have a fauna dominated by species of Arctic small fish, while some species have its northern boarders where the coastal warm water communities are.

In the fish communities dominated by Arctic waters, small Arctic species like Iiparids and other sculpins are the majority of the species, therefore the biomass of bottom dwelling fish is generally low here. In the communities dominated by Atlantic waters mostly boreal species like cod and haddock is found. These species usually grow quite large, and both numbers and biomass are larger in Atlantic waters. Distribution maps of more than 100 species based on the data used here can be found in Wienerroither and others (2011). The communities in the figure is based on a cluster analysis on bottom dwelling fish catches taken on the yearly ecosystem cruise in the Barents sea (August and September  2004 to 2009). Johannesen and others (2012) provided more details on the analyses and results.


Johannesen E, Høines ÅS, Dolgov AV, Fossheim M 2012 Demersal Fish Assemblages and Spatial Diversity Patterns in the Arctic-Atlantic Transition Zone in the Barents Sea. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34924. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034924

Wienerroither R., Johannesen E., Dolgov A., Byrkjedal I., Bjelland O, Drevetnyak K., Eriksen, K. B., Høines Å., Langhelle G., Langøy H., Prokhorova T., Prozorkevich D., Wenneck T., 2011. Atlas of the Barents Sea Fishes. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series 1-2011, ISSN 1502-8828. 272 pp.