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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Hiding in the shadows: effects of environmental stressors on male calanoid copepods

Tildelt: kr 98 999

Polar ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to effects caused by environmental stressors of anthropogenic origin, such as ocean acidification (OA) or ocean warming (OW). Calanoid copepods of the genus Calanus are key species in the Arctic food web and constitute up to 90% of the zooplankton biomass in Arctic shelf regions. To date, research on the effects of OA on Arctic calanoid copepods has focussed on female and early life stages. Male calanoid copepods and their response to environmental stressors, however, are largely understudied. This is likely because they are short lived and occur only fleetingly in the middle of the polar night as opposed to the females, which are much longer lived and survive through the return of the sun into spring and summer. Arctic regions are expected to experience the strongest and most rapid ocean acidification and warming of all global seas and the largest changes in seawater temperature and pCO2 are expected to occur in the winter. While the rest of the population is in the dormancy during winter, males are active and searching for mates. Successfully finding a partner and mating is an important requirement to sustain or grow the population, especially in arctic calanoid copepods. If altered, it could have profound consequences for the arctic food web and higher trophic levels that so rely on this biomass. This project aims at shedding light in the physiological responses of male copepods when presented with levels of environmental stressors (such as OA and OW) at levels projected for the near future in the Arctic region. Kongsfjorden has been chosen as the location for this study, given it represents one of the best studied arctic fjord systems and is a reference site for marine science and monitoring. Besides, the Kongsfjorden fauna is unique in diversity and abundance, and is considered as an early indicator for changes associated with global change related stressors, such as OA or OW.

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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum