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The diversity of cyanobacterial assemblages from various microhabitats in the Arctic area of Petuniabukta, Billefjorden, central Svalbard, was described. The present article contains the introductory common review of the cyanobacterial diversity and ecological data concerning main habitats, while the characteristics of individual taxonomic groups will be presented in following specific studies. Eight distinct main habitats were recognized, which differed in their species composition and especially the dominant species. More than 80 morphospecies were registered during our investigation, but only about 1/3 of them could be assigned to known and described taxa. The others require additional analyses based on modern taxonomic methods (the polyphasic approach ). The composition of cyanobacterial micro flora was comparable with assemblages in coastal Antarctica. The diversity of unicellular and colonial morphotypes (36 taxa) was higher tha n other groups. The number of filamentous species without heterocytes and akinetes, with 30 species, and heterocytous types, with only 20 species, were similar in both of these ecosystems. These numbers will be surely changed in the future, but the overall proportion of different groups will likely stay the same. In contrast to the limited species diversity, simple filamentous aheterocytous species were dominant and formed massive populations. Fewheterocy tous taxa, mostly grouped within the genus Nostoc ( N. commune –complex), were dominant in tundra soils.
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