More than 3,050 species of invertebrates inhabit the benthos of the Barents Sea (Sirenko, 2001). Total fauna biomass, including benthic species, generally increases near the Polar Front, in shallow regions, and near the edges of banks. The richest species diversity is found on sandy silts, and silty-sand floors. Lower biomass occurs in areas with limited upwelling, low primary production, reduced vertical flux, and areas with less suitable substrata caused by heavy sedimentation (e.g. inner parts of glacial fjords).
Several large scale studies of benthos have been performed in the Barents Sea. The first study was done before the intensive bottom trawl fishing started. The studies cover periods with different climatic conditions. Together they may therefore give information on the effects of fisheries and climatic variation and change on the benthos in the Barents Sea ecosystem. A review of benthic studies in the Barents Sea is given as an electronic appendix on the Russian-Norwegian environmental web portal (http://barentsportal.com).