Species redistribution and the future for the Arctic intertidal ecosystem

Dr Jakob Thyrring1,2, Professor Christopher Harley2, Dr Martin Blicher4, Dr Melody  Clarke1, Professor Lloyd Peck1, Dr Mikael Sejr3

1British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge , United Kingdom, 2University of British Columbia, Vancouver , Canada, 3Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, 4Greenlands Institute of Natural Resources , Nuuk, Greenland

Global warming occurs at elevated rates in the Arctic. Continued warming is predicted to suppress endemic Arctic species while facilitating a northward expansion of temperate species. However, in Greenland, current species distribution and knowledge of drivers affecting population dynamics are largely unknown. The West Greenland coast is north – south orientated. This provides an ideal setting to study the impact of climate change on marine species population dynamics and distribution. We investigated the latitudinal changes in abundance, biomass and species richness the rocky intertidal community along 18° latitudes (59-77°N) in West Greenland. We use this data to disentangle patterns in Arctic intertidal communities at different scales. We describe the effects of different environmental drivers and species interactions on distribution and dynamics of intertidal species, and discuss the sensitivity of Greenland’s intertidal to the invasion of new species. Our results indicate that  changes in distribution and abundance of foundation species can have large effects on the ecosystem. Only by merging complex species interactions with large-scale processes and small-scale variation, can we understand how climate change is affecting species now and in the future.


My research aim to broaden the understanding of how climatic changes affect the Arctic inter-tidal communities in terms of species composition and distribution of native and invasive species. Especially the ecological consequences of invasive species in the Arctic remains limited, and the I aim to expand our knowledge of how invasive species will influence current ecosystem structure and function in a warmer Arctic. I therefore work on three functional levels: organisms, populations and communities to progress current understanding on the processes that link Arctic climate change with changes in biological structure.

Similar Posts