Ecosystem overviews

Icelandic Waters ecosystem overview

State: Invasive, threatened and declining species and habitats

​Invasive species

The Icelandic Waters ecoregion has 22 non-indigenous and cryptogenic (obscure or of unknown origin) species. This is a diverse group of species belonging to phytoplankton, macroalgae, crustaceans, bivalves, tunicates, and fish. Four of those species (the brown seaweed Phaeophyceae, Atlantic rock crab Cancer irroratus, brown shrimp Crangon crangon, and flounder Platichthys flesus) are invasive in Icelandic waters but are native to other ICES ecoregions. The majority (twelve) of the non-indigenous species arrived between 1950 and 1999, with six species arriving since the beginning of the 21st century. Consequently, the annual rate of discovery increased from 0.2 per year during 1950–1999 to 0.4 per year during 2000–2016. At least one of the recently arrived non-indigenous species, the Chilean crab Cancer plebejus, is not yet registered in the neighboring areas (Faroe Plateau, Barents Sea, Greater North Sea, and Norwegian Sea).​

The main pathway for introductions is vessels, either through ballast water or ship hull fouling. Secondary spread from neighbouring areas may account for the arrival of a few non-indigenous species. Ecological impacts caused by the non-indigenous species in this region are​​​​​ very poorly known.

Threatened and declining species and habitats

Table 1: Threatened and declining species in the Icelandic Waters ecoregion, according to OSPAR.

SCIENTIFIC NAMECOMMON NAME
SEABIRDS 
Rissa tridactyla Black-legged kittiwake
Uria lomvia Thick-billed murre (or Brünnich's guillemot)
FISH  
Anguilla anguilla European eel
Centrophorus squamosusLeafscale gulper shark
Cetorhinus maximus Basking shark
Dipturus batis Common skate
Hoplosthethus atlanticusOrange roughy
Lamna nasus Porbeagle
Petromyzon marinus Sea lamprey
Salmo salar Salmon
Squalus acanthias [Northeast Atlantic] spurdog
MARINE MAMMALS  
Balaenoptera musculus Blue whale
Eubalaena glacialis

Northern right whale

Table 2: Threatened and declining habitats in the Icelandic Waters ecoregion, according to OSPAR.

HABITATS
Coral gardens
Deep-sea sponge aggregations
Intertidal mudflats
Lophelia pertusa reefs
Modiolus modiolus beds
Seamounts
Zostera beds​​
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Icelandic Waters ecosystem overview

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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