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Winter is coming: implications of winter climate change and human-induced disturbances for the Arctic marine zooplankton

Awarded: NOK 0.19 mill.

Our planet is quickly changing due to human stressors, including climate change. Recent studies aim to quantify how these stressors affect biodiversity, with the main focus on the reproductive and growing seasons. Most research to date ignores winter, which is an important stress in itself and can interact with climate change, but almost no research has focused on this to date. Every winter, arctic copepods, a fundamental part of the arctic aquatic food chain, migrate from the frozen surface of the sea into the deep, to survive producing dormant stages. The great challenge is to explore how climate change affects overwintering in the Artic, because of the limitation of techniques and methodologies. To address this challenge, we use innovative and high throughput techniques (FlowCam and machine learning) which will allow us to quickly analyse differences in copepods under different stressors scenarios. This technique is extremely fast compared with the traditional microscopic method. The aims of this collaboration are: 1) to perform field (in Svalbard) and laboratory experiments which will explore the effects of winter and multiple stressors on life history traits, such as reproductive stages and body size, of the arctic copepod Calanus sp. This project will provide the foundation to a new branch of study in the stressor ecology field: winter ecology and multiple stressors in polar marine ecology. There is an urgent need for this new discipline to develop, as to predict the effects of climate change, we need to consider the context and thus winter as a stressor; 2) To expand Dr. Khuong V. Dinh (YRT fellow of RCN at the University of Oslo) project: Vulnerability of overwintering Arctic zooplankton to multiple stressors (325334). We will publish at least 2 high impact factor papers to disseminate the results from the experiments and to open the way for this new area of research.

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