Can we detect changes in Arctic ecosystems?


Ocean ecosystems provide key services, such as control of climate and nutrient cycling.

To understand how Arctic ecosystems will evolve in response to multiple environmental stressors, it is crucial to evaluate the effects of recent and on-going change.

  • Are food webs sensitive to Arctic change?
  • How have food webs changed in the past, and how will they respond to future change?

We aim to quantify past and future changes in Arctic ecosystems by identifying the response in food webs.

This will provide a suitable approach to monitor future changes in ecosystem services.

Dr Claire Mahaffey, from the University of Liverpool and leader of the ARISE project, says:

The ARISE project is looking at how environmental change affects Arctic food webs. We will use novel biological markers or ‘biomarkers’ present in phytoplankton and zooplankton at the base of the food chain and Arctic seals at the top of the food chain. The biomarkers will allow us to understand how well these parts of the food chain are connected and the extent to which the environment is altering the food chain as the Arctic climate changes. The data we collect during the project will contribute to larger datasets collected by our international collaborators across the Arctic. We will use output from statistical and biogeochemical models to assess how much change has occurred in the food webs across the Arctic and the reasons for the change.

You can follow the ARISE project on Twitter under @project_ARISE.

Lead Investigator

  • Dr Claire Mahaffey

    Lead Investigator, University of Liverpool

    Claire Mahaffey is a marine biogeochemist at the University of Liverpool, and the lead investigator of the ARISE project.

    Her expertise is in quantifying the sources, cycling and sinks for nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon in a range of environments from shelf seas to the oligotrophic open ocean.

    Claire has experience in the use of stable isotopes in tracer and natural abundance mode to track nutrients and carbon through marine systems.

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