During the IceAGE ( Icelandic marine Animals – Genetics and Ecology ) expeditions in waters around Iceland and the Faroe Islands in 2011 and 2013, visual assessments of habitats and the study of surface sediment characteristics were undertaken in 119–2750 m water depth. Visual inspection was realized by means of an epibenthic sled equipped with a digital underwater video camcorder and a still camera. For determination of surface sediment characteristics a subsample of sediment from box corer samples or different grabs was collected and analyzed in the lab. Muddy bottoms predominated in the deep basins (Iceland Basin, Irminger Basin, deep Norwegian and Iceland Seas), while sand and gravel dominated on the shelves and the ridges, and in areas with high currents. Organic contents were highest in the deep Norwegian and Iceland Seas and in the Iceland Basin, and at these sites dense aggregations of mobile epibenthic organisms were observed. Large dropstones were abundant in the Iceland Sea near the shelf and in the Denmark Strait. The dropstones carried diverse, sessile epibenthic fauna, which may be underestimated using traditional sampling gear. The paper supplies new background information for studies based on IceAGE material, especially studies related to ecology and taxonomy.
Field and laboratory protocols that originally led to the success of published studies have previously been only briefly laid out in the methods sections of scientific publications. For the sake of repeatability, we regard the details of the methodology that allowed broad−range DNA studies on deep−sea isopods too valuable to be neglected. Here, a com− prehensive summary of protocols for the retrieval of the samples, fixation on board research vessels, PCR amplification and cycle sequencing of altogether six loci (three mitochondrial and three nuclear) is provided. These were adapted from previous protocols and developed especially for asellote Isopoda from deep−sea samples but have been successfully used in some other peracarids as well. In total, about 2300 specimens of isopods, 100 amphipods and 300 tanaids were sequenced mainly for COI and 16S and partly for the other markers. Although we did not set up an experimental design, we were able to analyze amplification and sequencing success of different methods on 16S and compare success rates for COI and 16S. The primer pair 16S SF/SR was generally reliable and led to better results than universal primers in all studied Janiroidea, except Munnopsidae and Dendrotionidae. The widely applied universal primers for the barcoding region of COI are problematic to use in deep−sea isopods with a success rate of 45–79% varying with family. To improve this, we recommend the development of taxon−specific primers.