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.
The eurybathic isopod species Chelator insignis shows a wide distribution south of Iceland. We analysed 51 specimens from shelf (213–305 m depth), slope (885–891 m and 1380–1390 m depth) and deep−sea habitats (2750 m) south of Iceland with different DNA markers. A fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (COI) was studied for 47 specimens, 16S was studied for 36 specimens, and a fragment for the 18S rRNA gene could be amplified for 11 specimens. For the COI data, specimens clustered into five distinct lineages each separated by ³ 20% uncorrected pairwise distances. Both the mitochondrial 16S and the nuclear 18S sequence data further support this deep divergence, suggesting the presence of overlooked species inside the nominal C. insignis . Populations on the shelf occurring east and west of the Reykjanes Ridge were genetically identical suggesting that this ridge is not a barrier to gene flow. However, populations from different depth ranges differed substantially. Our multi−gene analysis suggests that the newly found species likely have more narrow vertical distribution ranges and highlights a possible role of bathymetry in speciation processes.