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The IPY-project ‘COPOL’ has a main objective of understanding the dynamic range of man-made contaminants in marine ecosystems of polar regions, in order to better predict how possible future climate change will be reflected in levels and effects at higher trophic levels. This aim will be addressed by 4 integrated work packages covering the scopes of 1) food web contaminant exposure and flux, 2) transfer to higher trophic levels and potential effects, 3) chemical analyses and screening, 4) synthesis and integration. To study the relations between climate and environmental contaminants within a project period of four years, a “location-substitutes-time”-approach will be employed. The sampling is focussed towards specific areas in the Arctic, representing different climatic conditions. Two areas that are influenced differently by different water masses are chosen; the Kongsfjord on the West-coast of Spitzbergen (79N, 12 E) and the Rijpfjord North-East of Svalbard (80N, 22 E). The main effort is concentrated in the Kongsfjord. This fjord has been identified as particularly suitable as a study site of contaminants processes, due to the remoteness of sources, and for influences of climatic changes, due to the documented relation between Atlantic water influx and the climatic index North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The water masses of the Rijpfjord have Arctic origin and serves as a strictly Arctic reference. Variable Atlantic water influx will not only influence abiotic contaminant exposure, but also food web structure, food quality and energy pathways, as different water masses carry different phyto- and zooplankton assemblages. This may affect the flux of contaminants through the food web to high trophic level predators such as seabirds and seals, due to altered food quality and energy pathways.
Marine foodwebs as vector and possibly source of viruses and bacteria patogenic to humans shall be investigated in a compartive north-south study. Effects of sewage from ships traffic and urban settlements, on animals of arctic foodwebs will be studied.
During the last decade the concern regarding environmental effects of the offshore industry has shifted from effects of drilling discharges on benthic communities, towards a stronger focus on the water column and effects on the pelagic ecosystem. At the same time, oil and gas development is expanding in the Norwegian and Russian sectors of the Barents Sea. In this regard, a project has been initiated to look at responses of especially Calanus spp. and other copepod species to long-term, sublethal exposure to selected offshore discharges and discharge components, as well as accidental oil spills. Calanus spp. is ecologically the most important zooplankton species along the Norwegian shelf and in the Barents Sea. A laboratory based facility for culture through several generations is being developed through this project. In addition, the impact of oil compounds on the cold-water and arctic Calanus species-complex will be examined by carrying out a series of laboratory (some at Ny Ålesund) and ship based experiments. The response parameters will include both behavioral (feeding, mate finding, avoidance) and physiological (mortality, egg production, development rates, oxygen consumption and assimilation efficiency) parameters. The ultimate outcome of this research is expected to be a supporting instrument for ecological risk assessment of offshore discharges, which is highly relevant both to the North Sea, the mid-Norway shelf and the Barents Sea.
Arctic animals utilize periods with high food availability for feeding and lipid deposition, whereas they rely on stored lipids during unfavorable periods. Hence, many arctic inhabitants exhibit profound seasonal cycles of fattening and emaciation. In the Arctic, feeding is associated with fat deposition and contaminant accumulation. When lipids are mobilized, accumulated contaminants are released into the circulation. Consequently, blood contaminant concentrations may increase markedly and result in a redistribution of the contaminant(s) from “insensitive”, adipose tissues to sensitive organs, and increased contaminant bioavailability. Such variations complicate interpretations of pollutant toxicity, both in effect studies and in monitoring programs, and remains an important future reseach area. In the present study, we will use arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) as a model species for investigating tissue distribution and bioavailability of organochlorine contaminants (OCs) in relation to natural variations in lipid status (field study). These data will be supplemented and validated through a contamination study with blue fox (A. lagopus), where the seasonal changes in lipid status of wild fox are simulated in the laboratory. In both the field and laboratory study, possible effects of OCs on steroid hormone synthesis, and plasma levels of hormones, vitamin E and retinol will also be assessed.
This project investigates how solar UV radiation affects planktonic food webs in the Arctic by changing the nutritional quality of the lower trophic levels. UV radiation has been documented to lead to oxidation of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in phytoplankton. These PUFAs cannot be synthesized de novo by zooplankton, but are key molecules for the marine pelagic food web. A combined approach was chosen with both sampling of field data (physical as well as biological) and experiments which were carried out during two field seasons in Ny Ålesund in 2003 (april/may) and 2004 (may/june). In 2004, the main part of the field work consisted of an outdoor experiment where phytoplankton was exposed to different irradiation regimes, using the natural sunlight. Algae from all different treatments were used for feeding zooplankton in order to trace the transfer of irradiation-induced changes of the fatty acid composition in phytoplankton to the next trophic level. A number of additional parameters will be analysed as well, combined with the results of an extensive measurement series of both PAR- and UV light. The experiment was carried out on the old pier (Gamle Kaia), while the laboratory part took place in the Italian station ‘Dirigibile Italia’.
This project will examine benthic processes in arctic and mid-latitude regions in order to derive specific conclusions on the sensitivity of benthic organisms and communities to acute spills of petroleum-related chemicals and routine releases of drill cuttings. We will carry out a series of controlled experiments on whole sediment communities and individual benthic organisms with additions of drill cuttings and petroleum-associated contaminants, arriving at a set of hypotheses on the likely impacts on the benthos of petroleum production activities at higher latitudes. A series of testable hypotheses will be formulated based on an examination of real-world monitoring data sets collected under Norway’s Petroleum Regional Monitoring Programme and results of mesocosm experiments performed previously at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) Station at Solbergstrand. These data sets will be examined in order to identify the geographic scope of responses to petroleum industrial activities. Through this work, we intend to propose procedures to improve the interpretation of benthic monitoring data for diverse environmental regions in Norway. The project is linked to several on-going NFR projects within the Polarklima programme. By involving a Ph.D. student the project will advance the education and training of young scientists in the field of biological effects studies related to petroleum development and exploration activities.
The aim of this programme was to study the physiological and behavioural adaptations to the incubation fast in the female eider. This leads to study fundamental questions about three complementary field researches described below. 1. Evolutionary and ecological approaches: energetic costs of reproduction during incubation In long-lived birds as Eider, there must be trade-offs between the energy allocated in growth and in reproduction. Therefore, individuals develop different reproductive strategies in relation with biotic and non biotic factors to maximize their fitness. Among factors tested, we will first measure the effects of animal density on female reproductive success. Additionally, we will measure, thanks to genetic tests, 1) the characteristics of eider populations (dispertion) by comparing birds originating from several islands and several locations on the same island, 2) the frequency of intra-specific nest parasitism and 3) extra-pair copulations to link these events with female behavioural decisions. To link reproductive effort with female immunocompetence, we will then perform PHA (phytohaemagglutinine) skin tests at different stages of the incubation period. Finally, we will perform clutch reductions at different stages of the incubation period in order to highlight decision rules controlling nest desertion in females. 2. Physiological and ecological approaches: parental investment in reproduction We will also focus on the implication of prolactin and corticosterone in the control of parental decision at the hatching stage. Implantation of exogenous hormones will be done on nesting birds to evaluate the respective role of these two hormones in the control of parental decisions in eiders. Parental investment in incubation can be regulated by the reproductive value of the clutch size. To further understand the mechanism underlying nest desertion, we will measure the induced-changes in prolactin and corticosterone concentrations after clutch size manipulation overall the incubating period. 3. Physiological approach: regulation of body fuel utilization during fasting The aim will be to study the mechanisms of the regulation of body fuel utilization and energy expenditure during fasting. For this purpose, the ability of eider duck to withstand long periods of starvation will be studied by measuring the variations in plasma of major substrate concentrations (as index of lipid or protein breakdown) and hormones (e.g., leptin, glucagon, corticosterone, T3, ...). The study of duck’s adaptation to extended fasts occurring at specific stages of their life might help to understand important underlying mechanisms, such as reduction in energy expenditure, long-term regulation of body fat storage and mobilization, as well as long-term control of food intake.
Effects of UV radiations on lipids, fatty acids and nutritional quality of Arctic marine algae and zooplankton
As a result of the increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and other greenhose gases due to anthropogenic activities, global and water temperature is rising. The objectives of our project might be summarized as follows: I. To measure the activity of the enzymatic systems involved in carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus uptake (carbonic anhydrase, nitrate reductase and alkaline phosphatase) in selected macroalgae. To assess the optimal concentration of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus for growth and photosynthesis. To study the total concentration of carbon and nitrogen metabolites in the macroalgae (proteins, total carbohydrates, and lipids) in order to define the possible existence of nutrient limitation. II. To simulate the conditions of climate change, represented as CO2 enrichment and increasing UV radiation, on the activity of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus uptake mechanisms. III. To screen the activity of the enzymatic systems previously detailed in macroalgae from the Konjsfjord, in order to know their nutritional state.
To investigate arctic foxes physiological adaptations to life at high latitudes. Resting and running metabolic rates, body weight, food intake, body core temperature, heart rate, and blood parameters were examined during different seasons and during periods of food deprivation.
Effects of POPs on the immune system in the glaucous gulls
Biomarkers for orgaic pollution components
The objectives of this project is to study the effect of environmental stochasticity on the Svalbard reindeer population dynamics, nad further evaluate how this may affect reindeer-plant interactions.
Large-scale changes in surface ocean chemical equilibira and elemental cycling have occurred in the fremework of "global change" and are expected to continue and intensify in the future. The progressive increase in atmospheric CO2 affects the marinebiospehere in varous ways: indeirectly, for instance, through rising mean global temperatures causing incereased surface ocean stratification and hence mixed layer insulation, and directly through changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. In lab experimetns we recently observed that CO2-related changes in seawater carbonate chemistry strongly affect calcification of marine coccolithophorids. A rise in atmospheric CO2 may slow down biogenic calcification in the surface ocean with likeley effects on the vertical transport of calcium carbonate to the deep sea. The lab findings will be tested with natural phytoplankton in semi-controlled conditions in a series of floating mesocosms.
To monitor levels of pollutants in merlin by analysis of POPs and heavy metals in eggs and feathers. /Feathers and addled eggs of merlin were collected in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999 and 2000 for chemical analysis of POPs and heavy metals. Comparisons with eggs from museum collections show that there has been a significant shell thinning in eggs of Norwegian merlins. From 1947 up to 1990 the eggs were on average ca. 15% thinner than normal and after 1990 the thinning has been ca. 10%. There are still high concentrations of DDE to reduce reproductive output in some cases. The PCB levels are low compared to the DDE levels and the concentrations of other chlorinated hydrocarbons are also low. Results from mercury analyses indicate possible effects on breeding performance in some adults.
The present project includes one pilot study of wild adult glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) and one experimental study of glaucous gull chicks raised in captivity. The pilot study of adult gulls gave us enough blood and tissue samples to develop the methods needed for immune system analysis in the laboratory experiment. In the experimental study a total of 39 glaucous gull chicks were hatched and raised in captivity in Svalbard, Norway. The chicks were divided into two groups. One experimental group (20 chicks) was given food that mimicked the “natural” food found in the marine environment. The control group (19 chicks) was given “clean” food. After 56 days the chicks were sacrificed in order to collect samples for analyses of organochlorines (OCs) and immunocompetence measurements. The experimental group had 2.8, 3.9, 5.0, and 6.1 time’s higher concentrations of HCB, Oxychlordane, ?DDT, and ?PCB, respectively, compared to the control group at day 56. All chicks used in the experiment were immunised with various vaccines and sera in order to test their ability to respond against foreign antigens. The experimental chicks produced low levels of virus neutralising antibodies when tested against the herpes virus and reovirus. They produced higher levels of neutralising antibodies when tested to tetanus toxoid. There was, however, no difference between the experimental groups with regard to the mean antibody titres. The chicks in both groups also responded to the influenza virus by increasing the production of specific antibodies. However, the mean antibody titre in the exposed group was significantly lower than in the control group. The mitogen-induced response of blood lymphocytes to PHA and LPS was significantly higher in the exposed group compared to the control group. The specific response of blood lymphocytes to Con A, PWM, KLH, TET, and PPD was higher in the exposed group compared to the control group. However, do to high variance in the exposed group there was no significant difference between groups with regard to the lymphocyte response to these mitogens. The results from the present study indicate a toxic effect of OCs on the glaucous gull chicks, which induced a systematic activation of the immune system. Further work on data will be performed.
Population monitoring of Gyrfalcon, Golden Eagle, Willow Grouse and Passerine birds
The aim of the project is to monitor forest health in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The impact on the forest ecosystems in the border areas is varying. In the areas close to the nickel smelter (in Nikel), the damage is serious, while the damage on the Norwegian areas are much less. Here the damage is mostly related to lack of lichen vegetation on birch stems. The moss vegetation in the bottom layer is also influenced. In some cases, when certain weather conditions fell together with high emissions of sulphur dioxide, visible damage has been developed on leaves of shrubs and trees, even on Norwegian territory. Even the emission normally does not cause visible damage on Norwegian territory; chemical influenced is traced over large Norwegian areas
The aim of the project Intensive monitoring of forest ecosystem in an air pollution gradient from Nikel and westwards, running in the period 1994-1998/99, has been to develop and perform environmental monitoring in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The project is a contribution to the joint Norwegian/Russian Environmental Co-operation. Russian scientists have established and performed analyses at four monitoring sites in Russia, while Norwegian scientists have done similar monitoring at adjacent Norwegian areas. The scientists have worked together in two workshops and in the field. The collaboration has been efficient carried out by extensive use of e-mail. An important result for of the project has been harmonised field methodology, which has been put into practice by means of common fieldwork. The impact on the forest ecosystems in the border areas is varying. In the areas close to the nickel smelter (in Nikel), the damage is serious, while the damage on the Norwegian areas are much less. Here the damage is mostly related to lack of lichen vegetation on birch stems. The moss vegetation in the bottom layer is also influenced. In some cases, when certain weather conditions fell together with high emissions of sulphur dioxide, visible damage has been developed on leaves of shrubs and trees, even on Norwegian territory. Even the emission normally does not cause visible damage on Norwegian territory; chemical influenced is traced over large Norwegian areas
In 1990, the Directorate for Nature Management (DN) established an area for integrated monitoring within Børgefjell National Park, Røyrvik, N Trøndelag. Studies of vegetation-environment relationships in the area was performed by NINA. The area includes both subalpine birch forest and low alpine heath. The new established vegetation investigation included all together 80 different species. This material was processed numerically by using multivariate methods. Indirect gradient analyses were performed using Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) and Local Nonmetric Multidimentional Scaling (LNMDS). Direct gradient analyses were performed by using rescaled hybrid Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA). Non-parametric correlation analyses, Kendall’s , were performed between environmental parameters and DCA axis values. The results of the numerical and statistical processing were used partly to provide a description of the vegetational structure in the material and partly to quantify how much each ecological parameters contributed to determination of vegetational structure. This work shows the species distribution along various complex gradients; moisture, nutrient conditions, light etc. The investigation is primarily designed to study vegetation dynamics along these gradients and whether changes in the number of species can be related to changes in physical, biotic and, not least, chemical parameters. Variance analysis was performed to assess to what extent the sample plots tends move in a determined direction from 1990 to 1995. The variation between the years were not significant along the primary complex gradients, but there were a significant displacement of species along the following gradients. The most important species were: Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Melampyrum sylvaticum and Hylocomium splendens), which showed an increase and some cryptogams like Brachythecium reflexum, B. salebrosum and Cladonia ecmocyna which declined.