Spider and beetle colonisation patterns at Austerdalsbreen revealed

by Jacob Yde, August 31, 2020

A new master thesis elucidates complex biodiversity patterns of spiders and beetles as they colonise recently deglaciated forelands of Jostedalsbreen Ice Cap.


- The primary control of spider and beetle biodiversity in glacier forelands seems to be the age since deglaciation, Christian Klopsch explains. Klopsch has conducted the study as his master thesis from HVL.

- It has been many exciting days in the field with setting up insect traps and collecting samples at Austerdalsbreen, and many long days in the lab with identifying the different taxa of spiders and beetles. It is nice to see that the hard work results in new scientific findings, Klopsch says.

The beetle Carabus violaceus in front of Austerdalsbreen (photo: C. Klopsch).

Spiders and beetles are among the first colonisers of new terrain exposed in front of receding glaciers. As the terrain ages, more spiders and beetles arrive and the biodiversity structure changes. Vegetation growth and climatic changes also influence the biodiversity as the foreland becomes more stable with age. Klopsch found 48 different taxa of spiders and 52 different taxa of beetles at Austerdalsbreen, indicating that the biodiversity of spiders and beetles in glacier forelands may be richer than previously thought, although further investigations are required to analyse the impacts of various environmental controls.

- This is one of the most detailed studies of spiders and beetles in glacier forelands worldwide and there are still a lot of ecological links to geology, climate and vegetation that we do not understand at present, Klopsch says.

Klopsch did his master study as part of the Climate Change Management program at HVL with supervision from Dr. Mark Gillespie and JOSTICE team member Jacob Yde.