Ringed seal and Arctic char dietary and Hg accumulation responses to a changing climate
Climate change is causing average air temperatures in the Arctic to rise at a faster rate than the rest of the world. Increases in temperature are resulting in deteriorating annual sea ice conditions that lead to further environmental change. Sea ice is critical to the integrity of Arctic marine ecosystems and influences other environmental conditions such as sea surface temperature and the timing of highly productive phytoplankton blooms. Worsening sea ice conditions have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem and there is evidence they impact the
feeding ecology of important Arctic species such as Arctic char and ringed seals. These species have circumpolar distributions and are sensitive to environmental change making them good indicators of the impacts of climate change on Arctic ecosystems. We are
assessing the spatiotemporal patterns of Labrador Arctic char and ringed seal feeding behavior (δ15N, δ13C, and δ34S) and mercury dynamics with sea ice and other environmental parameters spanning ~20 years. Labrador shares many characteristics with other regions of the Arctic and its location near the boundary between the Arctic and sub-Arctic provides opportunities to understand future ecological changes in other locations.
Relevant Lab Members – Matthew Anderson (MSc)