Ivan Cautain

PhD student, Scottish Association for Marine Science

PhD project: Investigating the importance of different primary producers as food sources for Arctic benthos

Supervisors: Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy, Dr Kim Last and Dr Tom Brown (SAMS), Dr David McKee (University of Strathclyde), Dr Paul Renaud (Akvaplan-NIVA), Professor Bodil Bluhm (University of Tromsø)

Primary production in the Arctic ecosystem mostly comes from microalgae growing under sea ice and in the water column. These algal communities bloom successively, providing two pulses of organic matter to the ecosystem. The organic matter coming from these primary producers reaches the seafloor in different states of degradation, and therefore differs in quantity and quality.

I aim to investigate how different relative contributions of these primary producers affects benthic communities – if it shapes their structure, trophic relationships or secondary productivity – as well as looking at how much energy they contribute to benthic systems throughout the year. I will be using different methods to help me explore this, such as taxonomical investigation and community analysis as well as using multiple biomarkers (H-print, stable isotopes, fatty acids).

This project is a part of Arctic PRIZE.