Diel vertical migration (DVM) of zooplankton is a characteristic feature of the world’s oceans and lakes, and has been claimed to be the largest synchronized movement of biomass on the planet. Since the phenomenon was first detected almost two centuries ago (in 1817), there have been numerous studies into both the adaptive significance of this behaviour and its ecosystem consequence. A migration of animals to the surface layer at night allows zooplankton to feed in food-rich waters with reduced likelihood of detection by visual predators (predator-avoidance hypothesis), whereas during daytime they seek refuge in the darkness of the deep. The period around equinox, when the day and night are equally long are known to be a peak period for this type of migration, as it holds a significant advantage to each individual to be able to hide away down in the deep during the bright day and to migrate up in the surface waters during the night to feed on the many small algae and smaller zooplankton that live there. Predators in the pelagic generally use two main feeding modes; they either search for prey using vision (visual predators, e.g. many fish, birds and large zooplankton) or they search for prey by sensing vibrations and movements (tactile predators, many zooplankton). As a result, the prey encounter of visually searching predators is tightly bound to the light regime and prey encounter will be a function of day and night, time of the year and latitude. The extreme seasonality of high latitudes, including the polar night, creates a unique research laboratory for our endeavours to understand the relative roles of different prey encounter modes and for the functioning and constraints of visual predators in the north. To read more about the results, see these recent articles (Norwegian/Icelandic) , or wait for the story to appear in a scientific journal or other media soon..!
Back when the Vikings ruled, blue mussels had a natural habitat in Svalbard. They disappeared when the climate cooled, but today blue mussels have re-established themselves at 78 degrees North. The Svalbard blue mussel is thus a clear and present climate indicator of a warming Arctic. The reappearence of the blue mussels is in the focus of the Marine Night PhD student Peter Leopold. At several occasions the topic has been in the media recently:
In the autumn of 2013 an unexpected guest appeared on Svalbard - it came into Isfjorden in august, and pleased many locals with it presence during a very short autumn visit. Already from the middle of September it seemed to have left. But by that time, its presence had already been noted by Svalbardposten and was about to be discussed both in Nordlys and Bladet Fiskaren. The discovery in Isfjorden represent the by far most northern observation ever - more than 5 degrees latitude north of its previous northernmost documented observation. Despite intensive search, it appears not to have been back since. Who are we talking about - the Atlantic mackerel!
The findings resulted in some buzz in the newspapers (Svalbardposten, Fiskeribladet Fiskaren, Nordlys, Nordlys again, Aftenposten) and just recently in a scientific publication in the journal "Arctic".
After another successful Marine Night campaign in Ny-Ålesund concluded, the nightly activities were brought to a wider public by national and international outreach activities. Check out the following links to learn more. A complete list, also of earlier publications, can be found on the project page.
Nordlys (print): "Venter på å bli oppdaget" (Norwegian)
UiT news (online): “Et sort hull fullt av liv” (Norwegian)
NRK viten (online): «Dette trodde forskerne aldri de skulle finne» (Norwegian)
Ny Teknik (print): «Expeditionen jagar Arktis okända liv“ (Swedish)
Svalbardposten (print): «På limpinnen!» (Norwegian)
UiT news (online): «Limt fast på Svalbard!» (Norwegian)
UiT news (online): "Polarnatt til USA" (Norwegian)
DW (radio): «Marine life in the polar night» (English)
The News Journal (print): “Polar Opposites” (English)
NBC news (TV): “Delaware at the poles” (English)
NRK (radio): Morra i NRK P1 (Norwegian)
NRK (radio): "Liv i polarnatta" (Norwegian, mp3)
Anchorage Musem (exhibition): "Polar night - Life and light in the dead of night" (English)
Utenriksdepartementet (Ministry of foreign affairs): "Polarnatt til USA" (Norwegian)
The Polar Night exhibition will also go on an international tour in the near future. In May parts of the exhibition will be shown during a festival at the Smithsonian Institution's National History Museum in Washington and Anchorage, USA.
In addition to these outreach activities, there has also a special issue of the scientic journal "Polar Biology" been published. All articles therein are available as open access.
Life and light in the polar night is the title of an exhitibition inspired by the projects Marine Night, CircA and others. The exhibition in the Polar Museum in Tromsø opened on Jan 18th. You can find an online exhibition catalogue in English here and in Norwegian here. The flyer from the exhibition opening can be found here.
Soon the exhibition will also be shown in the USA, at the Anchorage Museum and in part at the Smithsonian. More details soon!
From early 2015, a new project will be initiated within the mare Incognitum family. Not only is it a new project, it is the largest project so far of all Mre Incognitum projects with a total budget of 50 million NOK.
This innovative and challenging research project is spearheaded by the development of new autonomous underwater technology, with the primary goal of determining the ecosystem consequences of the ongoing reduction in the Arctic sea ice. The project is based on three tightly-linked core modules: The applied technology module focuses on data acquisition and autonomous observations in areas and habitats yet to be systematically and scientifically explored. Specifically, we will develop an under-ice-tethered observatory (see picture) with real-time data transmission to be deployed for a full year in the Central Arctic Ocean. The biological interactions module focuses on coupling processes between the sea-ice and the ocean, aimed at answering the fundamental question of whether species composition and production regimes in Arctic marine ecosystems will be permanently altered following a continued reduction of the Arctic ice cover. The consequences module will explore and forecast possible consequences of reduced ice cover at increasing levels of complexity, ranging from individuals to populations up to the entire ecosystem and society at large and geopolitics. The project focuses on method development, technology adaption to an extreme operating environment, consequences for the deep central Arctic Ocean ecosystem of climate change, and on building a cross-disciplinary nationally and internationally coordinated consortium bridging technology and life sciences.
The Marine Night project was invited to give one of three presentations at this year's Kings Bay juleseminar (Christmas seminary). On behalf of the project, Eva Leu presented first results of our 2014 winter campaign in Kongsfjorden in January 2014. As this has been the by far largest research activity ever carried out in Ny-Ålesund in the middle of wintertime, it was a very special experience – not only for us, but also for the people working there. We had gotten fantastic support this year, and I was informed that the window front in the Marine Lab has already been covered again with two layers of rubbish bags for our coming January campaign. The audience was very interested to hear results about the high levels of biological activities we had observed, and were impressed by the strong national and international collaboration network, interdisciplinarity, and involvement of students in our project. You can find the presentation, with some of the preliminary Marine Night 2014 results here (PDF).
On 19th November 2014, Marine Night technician and Mare Incognitum webmaster Daniel Vogedes successfully defended his PhD thesis at UNIS (Svalbard). The title of the thesis is: Calanus spp. in t he Arctic ecosystem - a story on predation, distribution and methodology. The thesis consists of six published papers and a summary (listed in order of appearance in thesis):
- Synthesis (PDF) - print version or full PDF on request
- Gabrielsen T, Merkel B, Søreide J, Johansson-Karlsson E, Bailey A, Vogedes D, Nygård H, Varpe Ø, Berge J (2012) Potential misidentification of two climate indicator species of the marine arctic ecosystem: Calanus glacialis and C. finmarchicus. Polar Biol 35:1621-1628. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00300-012-1202-7
- Steen H, Vogedes D, Broms F, Falk-Petersen S, Berge J (2007) Little auks (Alle alle) breeding in a high Arctic fjord system: bimodal foraging strategies as a response to poor food quality? Polar Res 26:118-125. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-8369.2007.00022.x
- Vogedes D, Eiane K, Båtnes AS, Berge J (2014) Variability in Calanus spp. abundance on fine- to mesoscales in an Arctic fjord: implications for little auk feeding. Mar Biol Res 10:437-448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17451000.2013.815781
- Vogedes D, Varpe Ø, Søreide J, Graeve M, Berge J, Falk-Petersen S (2010) Lipid sac area as a proxy for individual lipid content of arctic calanoid copepods. J Plankton Res 32:1471-1477. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/plankt/fbq068
- Daase M, Eiane K, Aksnes DL, Vogedes D (2008) Vertical distribution of Calanus spp. and Metridia longa at four Arctic locations. Mar Biol Res 4:193-207. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17451000801907948
- Berge J, Cottier F, Last KS, Varpe Ø, Leu E, Søreide J, Eiane K, Falk-Petersen S, Willis K, Nygard H, Vogedes D, Griffith C, Johnsen G, Lorentzen D, Brierley AS (2009) Diel vertical migration of Arctic zooplankton during the polar night. Biology Letters 5:69-72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2008.0484
Marine ecological processes during the polar night – what do we know and how to proceed?
UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Campus Tromsø, 19th – 20th January 2015
The extended period of Arctic darkness, known as the polar night, may limit organism survival and reproductive success because of the associated food limitation. Even if the polar night only exist for +/-4 months, depending on latitude, Arctic marine environments may experience complete darkness for up to ten months because of extensive sea ice and snow conditions. A long overwintering period and a brief growing season are likely the main barriers for “temperate/lower latitude” species to keep sustainable populations in the Arctic. The temperate species lack the life history adaptations of high-Arctic species that allow them to cope with such extreme seasonality. However, our knowledge on winter ecology is extremely poor in comparison to ecological processes during the productive summer season. Gathering additional information on polar night ecology and processes is crucial, especially in light of expected impacts of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems. We therefore invite you to this Big Black Box workshop to convene an international group of experts to
1) develop one white paper summarizing existing knowledge on winter ecology in the Arctic
2) identify the most critical knowledge-gaps
3) discuss a new international initiative/program focusing on polar night ecology
Deadline for travel funding 16 December 2014
Deadline for signing up 6 January 2015
Information and invitation: PDF
Application for funding: PDF
- Cleopatra II & COPPY project meeting @ AWI
- Report from the dark side
- Life in a cold climate
- Cleopatra II project meeting at UNIS
- CLEOPATRA II and UNIS students in the field
- New insight into the secret life of the polar cod
- At the rainbows end - a story about whales and food
- Dark matter!
- 3 Polar Night articles in Svalbardposten
- Marine Night article by Eva Leu in Aftenposten