Two teams from the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany have combined their efforts to understand the dynamics of the Arctic spring bloom, using Kongsfjorden as a natural laboratory.
Cross-institutional collaboration and cooperation on marine sampling in Kongsfjorden
One of the main goals of the strategy for the Ny-Ålesund Research Station is to foster collaboration across member institutions and cooperation among researchers.
With phytoplankton blooms acknowledged as playing a tremendous role for ecosystem functioning and in global elemental cycles in the current and the future warmer Arctic, two teams have combined their efforts to understand the dynamics of the Arctic spring bloom, using Kongsfjorden as a natural laboratory.
The team from the Alfred Wegner Institute (AWI) has been monitoring the phytoplankton bloom in spring in Kongsfjorden since 2014, and the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) has monitored the zooplankton grazers of these in late summer since 1996.
Now, the teams are cooperating to monitor these tightly linked trophic levels in a complementary way, throughout the whole summer growth season. This cooperation grew out of shared use of the Marine Lab in Ny-Ålesund and a desire to combine different trophic expertise to better understand the fjord ecosystem.
Mystery project in the harbor – what is the timing and species composition of phytoplankton blooms in the Arctic?
In addition to shared long term-monitoring, this summer, the teams also jointly worked on deploying and testing five 500L AWI-designed mesocosms in the fjord to look at timing and species composition of phytoplankton blooms in the Arctic. The mesocosms are large, floating containers that capture seawater with all of the plankton biodiversity inside, and allow for experimenting on a whole ‘ecosystem’ at a time, in close to natural conditions.
The information from the mesocosms can give more realistic information on the ecology of marine food webs than experiments on a single species in the lab. The hypothesis that was tested was about which drivers affect the timing and species composition of phytoplankton blooms in natural Arctic settings— something which continues to be a mystery. This may let us know whether a ‘green’ future Arctic will give good food for larger marine animals.
To read more about marine biology and the system in Kongsfjorden check out The Kongsfjorden System flagship.
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