Mechanistic understanding of the role of diatoms in the success of the Arctic Calanus complex and implications for a warmer Arctic


Calanus comprise up to 90% of zooplankton biomass in Arctic Ocean. They are central to Arctic food webs, linking phytoplankton to fish and higher predators.

They also transport vast quantities of carbon into the deep ocean via the Calanus “lipid pump”.

  • How does change in the Arctic Ocean alter the availability of this key Arctic food source?
  • How does this influence the cycling of carbon in the Arctic?

A key aim is to develop a predictive understanding of how Calanus will be affected by climate change. This will allow us to explore the future impact on productivity and biogeochemistry in the Arctic Ocean.

Professor David Pond, who leads DIAPOD and is based at SAMS:

Our project is trying to unravel the mechanisms behind one of the largest migrations of biomass of Earth, the sinking of millions of tiny organisms called copepods each autumn from surface waters to great ocean depths to hibernate over winter. We still do not know what triggers their migration to depth or what factors wake them up again to re-ascend to the surface the following spring. The DIAPOD team will be collecting samples to examine the chemical composition of the microscopic food of copepods to determine if there are key components that these organisms need before they can enter hibernation.”

Lead Investigator

  • Professor David Pond

    Lead Investigator, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)

    I am professor of ecological biochemistry at SAMS, and lead investigator of the DIAPOD project.

    My research interests are extremely broad based, ranging from viruses to seals and over spatial scales of coastal waters to open ocean, from the tropics to the poles.

    My science activities are both field and laboratory based and I specialise in exploiting newly developed analytical techniques to address globally relevant ecological issues.

    A main emphasis of my research is to study biomarkers, particularly lipids in marine ecosystems to understand how ecosystems function. Biomarkers allow a forensic approach to ecological science by determining the origins and fate of these organic molecules and particularly how those that are nutritionally important, impact on population dynamics of marine organisms and communities.

    A major current focus of my research is determining the role of biophysics, specifically solid-liquid phase transition of lipids, in the behavioural ecology and metabolism of organisms in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.

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