ENVINET (European network for arctic-alpine multidiciplanary environmental research) is a research infrastructure network focusing on multidisciplinary environmental research in Europe. The network involves representatives from 18 environmental research infrastructures from the European Alps to the Arctic, representatives of their users and representatives from relevant international organizations and networks. The participating infrastructures cover a broad range of environmental sciences primarily within atmospheric physics and chemistry as well as marine and terrestrial biology.
The ENVINET project directory covers data and observation activities at these stations.
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Important progress has been made in recent decades to describe and understand how arctic terrestrial vertebrate interact, especially concerning predator-prey interactions. Indirect interactions between different prey species modulated by shared predators (e.g. Arctic fox) are believed to have important impacts on the structure and/or dynamics of some communities. Yet, our understanding of these types of interactions is still fragmentary. To fill that gap, we will build on ongoing projects exploring related questions in Canada (Marie-Andrée Giroux, Nicolas Lecomte, Joël Bêty) and Greenland (Olivier Gilg, Niels M. Schmidt), while taking advantage of existing networks (ADSN in North America and “Interactions” program in Greenland and Eurasia). The aim of the project is to promote the implementation of several common protocols that will (1) improve each collaborator’s knowledge at the site level and, more importantly, that will (2) be merged across sites and years to improve our understanding of the functioning and the influence of indirect interactions on arctic vertebrate communities in general.
Five types of data have been identified (by the 5 initiators of the project already mentioned above) as being mandatories to answer questions related to this topic. These data sets will be collected using 5 specific protocols described in the following chapters:
FUVIRC will serve ecosystem research, human health research and atmospheric chemistry research by providing UV monitoring data and guidance (i.e. calibration of instruments, maintenance of field test sites), research facilities (laboratories and accommodation), instruments and equipment.
The main objective of the facility is to enhance the international scientific co-operation at the seven Finnish research stations and to offer a very attractive and unique place for multidisciplinary environmental and atmospheric research in the most arctic region of the European Union. Factors such as, arctic-subarctic and alpine-subalpine environment, northern populations, arctic winters with snow, changes in the Earth's electromagnetic environment due to external disturbances and exceptionally long series of observations of many ecological and atmospheric variables should interest new users.
In contrast to many other marine regions, chemical interactions between organisms in Arctic waters are little understood. This project investigates natural products and chemical interactions in the sponge genus Haliclona in temperate and polar waters. Several new secondary metabolites isolated from Haliclona show feeding deterrence and activity against bacteria and fungi, but the compound composition varies with habitat and year. That raises the question whether sponges of the genus Haliclona as a model are able to adapt to changing environmental factors such as water temperature and colonization by bacteria by varying their secondary metabolite composition.
The objective of our work with arctic terrestrial plants and with algae is to study the range of climate adaptation as is expressed in special ultrastructure of cells and tissues, in photosynthetic metabolism, in antioxidative and sun screen compounds under a cold and reduced PAR / UV-B environment (climate different to alpine conditions). This is a comparison of ecophysiological processes already worked out mainly from high alpine plants, which live periodically under stronger cold and under different light regimes, especially higher UV-B and PAR irradiation. We want to find out, whether adaptations found in some alpine organisms occur similarly in polar forms.
The effects of stratospheric ozone depletion and of global warming on the marine biosphere are still underexplored, especially in the Arctic. Seaweeds are very important primary producers but are strongly susceptible to enhanced UV radiation and elevated temperatures, especially their spores. The UV susceptibility of spores has previously been invoked to determine the depth distribution of seaweeds. Therefore, we will investigate the effect of different radiation and temperature conditions on the ultra-structure, physiology and biochemistry of spores from various brown and green algae growing in different water depths. Moreover, we will study competition between zoospores of various species of brown macroalgae in order to get an insight about biotic factors structuring seaweed communities and also to explain more clearly the present seaweed zonation pattern.
The effects of biofilm settlement on corrosion resistance of stainless steels in polar seawaters are not well known. In warmer conditions (Mediterranean sea) biofilm increases both the risk of localised corrosion onset and the propagation rate of corrosion attack. Corrosion tests carried out in Antarctica demonstrated that biofilm growth at about 0°C induced electrochemical effects less important than those occurring in warmer conditions. On the contrary, corrosion tests performed in similar environmental conditions at Ny-Aalesund (Svalbard) showed more severe corrosion attack than in Antarctica. This research aims: - to define the influence of biofilm on stainless steel corrosion resistance in polar seawater in the range of temperature between -1 and +5 °C, - to define if change in salinity can influence corrosion process, - to identify stainless steel grades which can be acceptable in such conditions (polar seawater seems to be somewhat less corrosive, which gives the possibility to use cheaper stainless steels).
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.
In a context of global change, arctic ecosystems are exposed to deep modifications not only of the biology and ecology of endemic species but also of the interactions they may have with an increasing number of introduced species. This project attempts to assess in Svalbard, the impacts of global changes on aphids. These phytophagous insects are particularly relevant organisms for studies on the effects of global warming and biological invasion because 1) of their extreme sensitivity to micro- and macro- changes due to their spectacular rate of increase and phenotypic plasticity and 2) of their colonizing capacity conferred by their parthenogenetic mode of reproduction and their dispersal potential
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.
Plankton of shallow polar freshwater water bodies is exposed to increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) due to the limited water depth. Daphnia (Crustacea, waterflea) and algae are common representatives of the food chain in these water bodies. Daphnia almost exclusively use lipids for energy storage, which they obtain from their food (mainly algae). Therefore, Daphnia and algae are closely linked to each other. Preliminary experiments on the UV-induced damage in phyto- and zooplankton point to lipids as one of the key players. With this application we want to identify how algae specific lipids and fatty acids (FA) are modified by UVR. The factors modifying UV-doses to the animals and their food are depth of the waterbody and DOC (absorbs UV). A pondsurvey shall provide a wide spectrum on ponds which vary in DOC and depth. Lipid analysis of Daphnia and their food of these ponds as well as physical parameters of the pond waters shall identify correlations between UV-exposure and specific fatty acids. This shall enable us to estimate the effect of solar UVR on the freshwater plankton community in polar ponds.
The project investigated small-scale biotic interactions between laminated microbial communities and meiofauna at light-exposed sediment-water boundaries of estuarine lagoons. The production and biological structure of these systems is mainly determined by complex processes at the sediment-water interface which depend on finely scaled patterns, requiring appreciation of how the biota interact within these scales. We tested whether changing light conditions and active emergence of the harpacticoid species Mesochra lilljeborgi and Tachidius discipes are mediated by the activity of benthic oxygenic and anoxygenic phototrophic microbes. Two hypotheses were tested which addresses to the question of causality between changing light conditions and active emergence of the harpacticoid copepods. (1)The harpacticoid copepods T. discipes and M. lilljeborgi will enter the bottom water during daylight when oxygenic photosynthesis of cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae is blocked and conditions at the sediment-water interface have turned anoxic. (2)Both species will not emerge during dark exposures when transferred to sterilized sediments.
The main objective was to investigate the importance of the sediment as a nutrient source for blooms of nuiscance filamentous algae. Nutrient fluxes from the sediment were hypothesised to be of greater importance in maintaining algal biomass than were nutrients originating from the overlying water column. We aimed to assess the relative importance of algal mats on sediment geochemistry and nutrient release under stillwater and controlled flow conditions. Using nutrient fluxes as a surrogate for ecosystem function, we wished to investigate the role of species richness in maintaining the integrity of nutrient diagenesis. In this context, it is not necessarily the number of species that is important in maintaining nutrient supply to algal blooms, but the contribution individual species make to mediate nutrient release.
The phsyiological and locomotive reaction to factors that influence environmental behaviour of Nordic krill from the Gullmarfjorden were studied in terms of swimming energetics, predator avoidence and food utilization. In a newly developed experimental approach, individuals were maintained under defined conditions in flow through chambers and continuously monitored for swimming activity and oxygen consumption. Chemical, physical and biological parameters were applied and the reaction of the krill determined. Stress levels, defined this way, will serve as a reference for unfavourable conditions in the field. Thermal characteristics of digestive enzymes from the midgut gland were furthermore identify the optimum conditions for nutrient assimilation. The results will contribute to the understanding of diel vertical migration, dispersion and aggregation of krill which, in turn is essential for the interpretation of ecosystem dynamics and trophic interactions.
The general objective of this research concerns the quantitative and qualitative study of particulate matter retained in natural (sea-ice and sediment) and artificial (sediment traps) traps in order to determine the main origin (autochtonous and allochtonous) and the relative importance of different fractions of particulate matter and to follow their fate in the environment. To quantify the autochtonous origin of particulate matter, primary production, nutrient uptake, biomass distribution, phytoplankton community structure and fluxes in the first levels of the trophic chain will be investigated. Studies will be conducted in the sea-ice environment and in the water column and compared to the particle fluxes measured both in the water, using sediment traps and in the sediment, by radiometric chronology, in order to estimate the different contribution of these habitats to carbon export to the bottom. The zooplankton will be identified and counted and primary production, nutrient uptake and phytoplankton dynamics will be related to hydrological structure and nutrient availability in the environment. The Kongsfjord results particularly suitable for the main objective of this research as it is influenced by important inputs of both atmospheric (eolic and meteroric) and glacial origin and is characterised by a complex hydrological situation which may promote autochtonous productive processes, thus determining important particulate fluxes.
The aim of our work was to study the occurrence of inorganic carbon pumps in the cell membrane and their importance in the supply of C for photosynthesis in different macrophyte species. This was performed by checking and comparing responses of several green, brown and, especially, red marine macroalgae species under CO2 disequilibrium conditions in the presence of buffer and/or inhibitors of carbon uptake. In addition, the effect of the different treatments was also checked in the marine phanerogam Zostera marina.