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Current state and trends in Canadian Arctic marine ecosystems: II. Heterotrophic food web, pelagic-benthic coupling, and biodiversity

Author

Listed:
  • Gérald Darnis
  • Dominique Robert

    ()

  • Corinne Pomerleau
  • Heike Link
  • Philippe Archambault
  • R. Nelson
  • Maxime Geoffroy
  • Jean-Éric Tremblay
  • Connie Lovejoy
  • Steve Ferguson
  • Brian Hunt
  • Louis Fortier

Abstract

As part of the Canadian contribution to the International Polar Year (IPY), several major international research programs have focused on offshore arctic marine ecosystems. The general goal of these projects was to improve our understanding of how the response of arctic marine ecosystems to climate warming will alter food web structure and ecosystem services provided to Northerners. At least four key findings from these projects relating to arctic heterotrophic food web, pelagic-benthic coupling and biodiversity have emerged: (1) Contrary to a long-standing paradigm of dormant ecosystems during the long arctic winter, major food web components showed relatively high level of winter activity, well before the spring release of ice algae and subsequent phytoplankton bloom. Such phenological plasticity among key secondary producers like zooplankton may thus narrow the risks of extreme mismatch between primary production and secondary production in an increasingly variable arctic environment. (2) Tight pelagic-benthic coupling and consequent recycling of nutrients at the seafloor characterize specific regions of the Canadian Arctic, such as the North Water polynya and Lancaster Sound. The latter constitute hot spots of benthic ecosystem functioning compared to regions where zooplankton-mediated processes weaken the pelagic-benthic coupling. (3) In contrast with another widely shared assumption of lower biodiversity, arctic marine biodiversity is comparable to that reported off Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada, albeit threatened by the potential colonization of subarctic species. (4) The rapid decrease of summer sea-ice cover allows increasing numbers of killer whales to use the Canadian High Arctic as a hunting ground. The stronger presence of this species, bound to become a new apex predator of arctic seas, will likely affect populations of endemic arctic marine mammals such as the narwhal, bowhead, and beluga whales. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Gérald Darnis & Dominique Robert & Corinne Pomerleau & Heike Link & Philippe Archambault & R. Nelson & Maxime Geoffroy & Jean-Éric Tremblay & Connie Lovejoy & Steve Ferguson & Brian Hunt & Louis Forti, 2012. "Current state and trends in Canadian Arctic marine ecosystems: II. Heterotrophic food web, pelagic-benthic coupling, and biodiversity," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 179-205, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:115:y:2012:i:1:p:179-205 DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0483-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Elizabeth Allen & Chad Kruger & Fok-Yan Leung & Jennie Stephens, 2013. "Diverse Perceptions of Stakeholder Engagement within an Environmental Modeling Research Team," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 3(3), pages 343-356, September.
    2. Elena G. Irwin, 2010. "New Directions For Urban Economic Models Of Land Use Change: Incorporating Spatial Dynamics And Heterogeneity," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 65-91.
    3. Kathy Hibbard & Anthony Janetos, 2013. "The regional nature of global challenges: a need and strategy for integrated regional modeling," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 118(3), pages 565-577, June.
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    1. Jean-Éric Tremblay & Dominique Robert & Diana Varela & Connie Lovejoy & Gérald Darnis & R. Nelson & Akash Sastri, 2012. "Current state and trends in Canadian Arctic marine ecosystems: I. Primary production," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 161-178, November.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:9:p:1605-:d:111340 is not listed on IDEAS

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