More millions for zooplankton research

More millions for zooplankton research

Top image: Rijpfjorden on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, one of the field campaign sites for the CLEOPATRA II project. Photo: Janne Søreide/UNIS.

Another zooplankton research project has received millions in funding from the Research Council of Norway. The three-year project CLEOPATRA II will study the copepod Calanus glacialis, a key Arctic grazer in the seasonal ice covered seas.

9 January 2012
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen / UNIS

CLEOPATRA II (Climate effects on planktonic food quality and trophic transfer in Arctic Marginal Ice Zones II) is an extension of the IPY-project CLEOPTRA that ran during the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007-2009.

With 7 million NOK in funding from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) project NORKLIMA (Climate change and impacts in Norway), the scientists hope to unravel more secrets of life in seasonal ice covered seas.  Out of 51 applications to the RCN, this project was one of six successful applications.

– The primary goal of CLEOPATRA II is to obtain a better knowledge of Arctic zooplankton physiology and life history strategies to predict the degree of match/mismatch of key biological processes at the base of the Arctic marine food web in a changing Arctic, says project leader Janne Søreide.

The project is headed by the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in close cooperation with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar- and Marine Research.  This project will be an integrated part of the ARCTOS network, a leading network for Arctic marine ecosystem research.

The full project budget is NOK 10 million, out of which the RCN funds NOK 7 million.

Key Arctic grazer
– The study will focus on Calanus glacialis, a large-bodied copepode which constitute up to 90% of the zooplankton biomass in Arctic shelf seas. This key Arctic grazer is an extremely lipid-rich copepod (70% lipids of its dry weight) and essential food item for marine species such as fish, sea birds and whales, Søreide explains.

In addition, the scientists want to document the full annual cycle of C. glacialis through field investigations, to obtain data for testing diapause duration, critical size of lipid storage, and reproductive success and population abundance.

In the lab, they plan to measure metabolism and flexibility in diapause of the copepod, alongside testing predictions of temperature- and food-dependence of these traits.

Janne Søreide

Janne Søreide.

– We want to model the life history of Calanus glacialis, so we can predict their optimal strategies for certain environments and thereby how C. glacialis and similar species may respond to climate change in the Arctic, Søreide says.

Fieldwork is already underway, the RV “Helmer Hanssen” is currently steaming towards Rijpfjorden (80 deg. N) to collect new samples in the Polar night.

– We will sample in Billefjorden (78 deg. N) throughout 2012-13, and we will have longer field campaigns in Rijpfjorden in 2013, Søreide says.

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