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Arctic marine life threatened as a result of Alaskan sea ice disappearing

Disappearing Alaskan sea ice is significant for Arctic marine ecosystem, Science Daily , April 22, 2020, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Summary:
A new study shows that plant materials originating in Arctic sea ice are significantly incorporated into marine food webs that are used for subsistence in local communities of the greater Bering Strait region. The research has the potential to demonstrate the importance of sea ice ecosystems as a source of food in Arctic waters in Alaska and beyond.

A new study shows that plant materials originating in Arctic sea ice are significantly incorporated into marine food webs that are used for subsistence in local communities of the greater Bering Strait region.

The study led by scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science traced persistent biological compounds that are uniquely generated by microscopic plants in sea ice and found that the compounds are present throughout the base of the food web. The research has the potential to demonstrate the importance of sea ice ecosystems as a source of food in Arctic waters in Alaska and beyond.

“It is widely thought that the loss of sea ice habitat will have far-reaching implications for Arctic ecosystems,” said lead author Chelsea Wegner Koch, a graduate research assistant and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

“As sea ice breakup occurs earlier and forms later each year, the open water period is expanding and the sources of food are shifting away from sea ice and towards greater proportions of open water production. This production in the absence of sea ice differs in the quality, quantity, and timing of delivery to the seafloor,” she said.

Efforts to account for the proportional shifts in contributions of ice algae have been incomplete due to the lack of a specific tracer that can be definitively assigned to ice algae rather than open-water phytoplankton. The compounds reaching the seafloor that were studied are associated with food for a range of seafloor animals that in turn provide food for ecologically and culturally important organisms, such as the bearded seal, Pacific walrus, gray whale and spectacled eider that forage on the shallow sea floor. …… https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200422151134.htm
 

April 23, 2020 - Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, environment

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