State of the Arctic – Zooplankton in a Changing Arctic

First speaker, Emilie Hernes Vereide showing a picture of fieldwork carried out during her project on how freshwater input from glaciers and rivers affects the zooplankton community. Photo taken by Ignacio Baena Vega.

Even though the session tackled a topic that could be considered as hard to address to a non-expert audience as myself, the four speakers did a great job explaining themselves in a clear and understandable way, not only during their presentations but when answering doubts and comments made by the attendees as well. Although some specific concepts were hard to retain even after a second explanation, it was easy to follow and to catch the take home message.

The study of zooplankton and how it is affected by different climate changes, which was the main focus of the presentations, seems like a huge challenge for scientists. First of all we are talking about a very small creature, one of the projects focused on individuals measuring <1 mm in body length with all the implications that this has. Furthermore, these creatures live in an environment where fieldwork always can face weather difficulties and that is, as it has been widely explain these days, changing at a fastest path than any other area in the world. On top of that, new discoveries have resulted from some of these studies and now challenge previous established ideas.

Fourth speaker, Coralie Barth-Jensen describing the species of small copepods that are part of her project focused on how their reproductive rates are affected by temperature shifts. Picture taken by Ignacio Baena Vega

Last but not least, the lack of knowledge of general public is an issue that also raises concern. Copepods trying to adapt to climatic changes are not the usual image that we see when this issue is shown outside this sort of events, hence outreach and communication of why this findings are important and why does the fate of this species matter is a crucial step. In the same way that we are more aware of how land and ocean interact, it is important to realize that zooplankton cannot be taken alone as it has a crucial role in the food web that eventually leads to us.

By Ignacio Baena Vega, Masters, Universidad Pontificia de Chile





DISCLAIMER: These posts are contributions from participants in Arctic Frontiers Young Ambassadors program and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arctic Frontiers.

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