Svalbard: projects/activities

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Directory entires that have specified Svalbard as one of the geographic regions for the project/activity and are included in the AMAP, ENVINET, SAON and SEARCH directories. Note that the list of regions is not hierarchical, and there is no relation between regions (e.g. a record tagged with Nunavut may not be tagged with Canada). To see the full list of regions, see the regions list. To browse the catalog based on the originating country (leady party), see the list of countries.

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Displaying: 1 - 20 of 32 Next
1. Contaminants in Polar Regions – Dynamic Range of Contaminants in Polar Marine Ecosystems (COPOL)

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 (79N, 12 E) and the Rijpfjord North-East of Svalbard (80N, 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.

Biological effects Organochlorines Heavy metals Fish Climate variability Long-range transport Climate Contaminant transport Climate change Exposure Arctic Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) Local pollution Seabirds Food webs Ecosystems
2. Haliclona natural products

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.

Biological effects Climate change Biodiversity natural products Ecosystems
3. Investigation of the physiological and cellular adaptation of plants to the arctic environ-ment – comparison with high alpine conditions

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.

Ultrastructure Biological effects UV radiation physiology stress adaptation Climate change Arctic Cold stress Ecosystems
4. Marine food webs as vector of human patogens

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.

Pathways Biological effects Hydrography Fish Discharges Pollution sources Environmental management Contaminant transport Terrestrial mammals Shipping Polar bear Exposure Arctic Local pollution Seabirds Shellfish Food webs Waste Human health Human intake Marine mammals
5. Contaminants in polar fox

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.

Biological effects Biology Organochlorines PCBs Arctic Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) Pesticides
6. ARCTAPHID: biology and ecology of aphid populations in arctic environment.

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

ecology Biological effects Biology Populations adaptation Climate change life cycle invasive species Arctic Reproduction aphids Ecosystems
7. Incubation behaviour and energetic strategy during reproduction in long-lived birds :

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.

Biological effects Biology Arctic birds reproduction ecophysiology
8. The Effect of solar UV on lipids in the planktonic food chain of polar freshwater ponds

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.

Biological effects UV radiation freshwater plankton Climate change Exposure Arctic Food webs Diet Ecosystems lipids
9. Effects of UV-B radiation on Microbial communities in Kongsfjorden

Effects of UV-B radiation on microbial communities in Kongsfjorden in relation to metal and dissolved organic matter availabillity.

Biological effects Ozone Biology UV radiation Heavy metals Environmental management Exposure Arctic Model ecosystem Ecosystems
10. Dynamics of benthic bivalve communities in polar environments

Description of parameters of the population dynamics of polar bivalve communities, first year: growth and reproductive cycle of the dominant Greenland cockles (Serripes groenlandicus)

Biological effects population dynamics Biodiversity Arctic
11. Macroalgal secondary metabolites from Arctic waters

The aim of this project is to investigate natural products from polar macroalgae. As arctic waters represent an extreme habitat, formation of secondary metabolites is limited - besides other factors - by light conditions. Therefore, the influence of light, particularly different photon fluence rates and UV radiation, on secondary metabolism and on regulation of associated genes will be studied.

polar macroalgae Biological effects UV radiation Ecosystems
12. Adaptation of bacteria in marine sediments to Arctic temperatures

The goal is to understand, how bacteria in Arctic sediments are adapted to low temperature and how (climatic) changes of temperature may affect the rate and pathways of carbon cycling and the balance of mineral cycles. The diversity and physiology of bacterial populations of fjord sediments on West-Spitzbergen will be studied by a combination of molecular (16S rRNA sequence analyses and in situ hybridization) and microbiological (isolation and physiology of pure cultures) approaches. The metabolic activity of these bacteria in the sea floor and the temperature regulation of the dominant mineralization processes will be analysed by experimentel techniques during the research period in Ny Ålesund. The focus will be on the enzymatic cleavage of polymeric carbohydrates, the anaerobic respiration through sulfate reduction, the reduction of iron and mangenese oxides, and the turnover of volatile fatty acids and hydrogen. Subsequently, psychrophilic bacteria are isolated from the anoxic sediments and studied in pure culture. The bacterial populations in the sediment are studied by molecular methods to analyze their diversity and metabolic activity.

Biological effects microbial life Sediments
13. Arctic islands of genetic diversity or fragments of an ancient clone

Arctic islands of genetic diversity or fragments of an ancient clone. The history and future of Dryas octopetala in a changing environment.

Biological effects Climate change
14. Physiological response of growth, photosynthesis and nutrient uptake of marine macrophytes in a UV- and CO2 - enriched environment

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.

Biological effects nutrient uptake UV radiation Climate change Macroalgae eutrophycation Ecosystems
15. Biopolar investigations of physiological stress susceptibility and responses in microbes and arthropods

Seasonal ozone depletion in now occurring both in the Arctic and Antarctic, thus increasing levels of UV-B radiation reaching polar bilogical systems.

Biological effects UV radiation
16. Physiological adaptations of the arctic fox to high Arctic conditions

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.

Biological effects Biology Climate Arctic Ecosystems
17. Effects of POPs on the immune system in the glaucous gulls

Effects of POPs on the immune system in the glaucous gulls

Biological effects Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
18. Biomarkers for organic pollution components

Biomarkers for orgaic pollution components

Biological effects Pollution sources

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.

Biological effects Biology Populations Climate variability Climate Climate change Terrestrial mammals Arctic Reindeer Temporal trends Ecosystems
20. Physiological and cellular adaptation of higher plants and snow algae to the arctic environment

The objective of the planned work with arctic higher plants is to study the range of adaptation of photosynthetic metabolism, of antioxidative and sun screen compounds in a cold and reduced UV-B climate in comparison of data already raised from high alpine plants, which live partially under stronger cold and under different light regimes, especially higher UV-B. Further, the ultrastructure of leaf cells will be studied to clear, whether adaptations found in some high alpine plants occur similarly in arctic plants, and to connect such cytological results with metabolic functions. An additional comparison will be made with snow algae from Svalbard compared to those harvested on high alpine snow fields. It is the advantage of the planned work, that a number of investigations ranging from ultrastructural studies over different aspects of photosynthesis to assays of UV-B sensitive compounds and antioxidants will be conducted mostly with measurements and sample collection in the field during the same experimental day at one place. Therefore we expect a good connection of the data raised, back to the plant system and expect a much broader description of vitality and adaptation under the current conditions.

Arctic higher plants Biological effects Biology UV radiation Ultrastructural studies Alpine Arctic Snow algae Ecosystems Photosynthetic metabolism High alpine plants