Biodiversity changes

Work package 2

WP 2 will link the key drivers identified in WP 1 to biodiversity changes at different timescales to explore the phenomenon of borealization in a comprehensive and quantitative manner, as well as the influence of increasing/changing human activities in the fjord systems. It will provide information on the past, present and potential future state of biodiversity in Arctic fjords by integrating key components along the food-web from micro-organisms up to meso- and top-predatorsand by considering the cryptic diversity, representing one fundamental level of biodiversity.

WP 2 will provide new data in order to test the fundamental hypothesis “The biodiversity of Arctic coastal zones is changing at rates closely connected to the rates of cryosphere changes”. WP 2 will assess whether there is a coherent fingerprint of borealization along food webs, within and among Arctic fjords and how this affects biodiversity and species of particular relevance to local livelihoods and commercial interests. WP 2 will be based primarily on existing time series of species abundance, distribution and life-history conducted at the different study sites. Those data were and will be collected as part of ongoing research and monitoring programs approved by national animal welfare authorities. It will analyse trends to assess the linear (and potentially non-linear) changes in abundance and/or biomass and, whenever possible, link these changes to changes in survival, reproduction, habitat use and diet. In addition to assessing changes in the investigated trophic levels separately, diversity indices will be calculated where suitable datasets exist. WP 2 will further test whether changes in the biota of Arctic fjords are linked to changes in the key drivers identified in WP 1, such as sea-ice decline, climate warming and exploitation of harvestable resources. Therefore, perturbation experiments will be performed to understand how the projected changes in environmental conditions will affect key Arctic organisms and communities. The experiments will focus on benthic species of commercial interest (e.g. molluscs, crustaceans) and key habitat-forming species (e.g. kelp, coralline algae). This work package will also assess changes in the occurrence of selected organisms at a century-time scale using sediment cores and environmental DNA analyses. The selected species will include boreal and invasive species that affect indigenous people either because they disrupt traditional ecosystem services or because they become a new resource (e.g. snow crab).

WP 2 will use identified linkages and different climatic scenarios to project population abundances of key marine species and species of high relevance to coastal livelihoods and Indigenous people (e.g. fish, crustaceans, seabirds, sea-mammals) identified in WP 4 and WP 5.