Chronobiology of changing Arctic Sea Ecosystems


As the Arctic Ocean is warming, many marine organisms are moving northwards to take advantage of new habitats. Such migrations result in exposure to different day-lengths (or photoperiods), which can be extreme when compared with lower latitudes.

Since photoperiod is central to the timing of many life-cycle events and the ‘setting’ of the biological circadian clock, the consequences of migrating ‘up north’ are as yet unknown.

We will determine if changes in photoperiod, known to negatively affect many terrestrial organisms, will also affect marine zooplankton, centrally important to the functioning of the Arctic ecosystem.

This project is co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and by NERC.

Dr Kim Last, Lead Investigator of CHASE:

“The influence of climate change is very dramatic in the Arctic with increasing temperatures and decreasing in sea-ice. Many marine organisms, including zooplankton, are moving poleward to take advantage of new habitats, and will therefore experience a mismatch between temperature and day-length. This may disrupt the correct ‘ticking’ of their biological circadian clock – universal to all life on Earth and important for survival. We aim is to determine the significance of this in order to determine the consequences to marine life in a changing Arctic Ocean.”

Lead Investigators

  • Dr Kim Last

    Co-lead investigator, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)

    I am an ecologist interested in the effects of human activities on marine organisms with a particular focus on chronobiology (or how organisms tell the time?) and co-lead investigator in the CHASE project. Over the last few years I have specialised in understanding the daily migrations of zooplankton which constitute one of the biggest daily migrations on the planet. I apply chronobiological tools to visualise migration behaviours in different environments from fjord to open ocean and have been on many Arctic cruises.

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  • Professor Dr Bettina Meyer

    Co-lead investigator, University of Oldenburg/AWI

    Bettina Meyer addresses causes and consequences of population shifts of polar pelagic key invertebrates, such as krill and calanoid copepodes, that drive or have a strong impact on ecosystem functioning. Her research focuses on process-oriented studies in the field and in the laboratory to understand genetic and physiological traits of these organisms to cope with a changing environment. Bettina leads the research in the CHASE project in Germany.

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