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Temporal and spatial trends in marine carbon isotopes in the Arctic Ocean and implications for food web studies.

08:00 EDT 9th September 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Temporal and spatial trends in marine carbon isotopes in the Arctic Ocean and implications for food web studies."

The Arctic is undergoing unprecedented environmental change. Rapid warming, decline in sea ice extent, increase in riverine input, ocean acidification and changes in primary productivity are creating a crucible for multiple concurrent environmental stressors, with unknown consequences for the entire arctic ecosystem. Here, we synthesised 30 years of data on the stable carbon isotope (δ C) signatures in dissolved inorganic carbon (δ C-DIC; 1977 to 2014), marine and riverine particulate organic carbon (δ C-POC; 1986 to 2013) and tissues of marine mammals in the Arctic. δ C values in consumers can change as a result of environmentally driven variation in the δ C values at the base of the food web or alteration in the trophic structure, thus providing a method to assess the sensitivity of food webs to environmental change. Our synthesis reveals a spatially heterogeneous and temporally evolving δ C baseline, with spatial gradients in the δ C-POC values between arctic shelves and arctic basins likely driven by differences in productivity and riverine and coastal influence. We report a decline in δ C-DIC values (-0.011 ‰ y ) in the Arctic, reflecting increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO ) in the Arctic Ocean (i.e. Suess effect), which is larger than predicted. The larger decline in δ C-POC values and δ C in arctic marine mammals reflects the anthropogenic CO signal as well as the influence of a changing arctic environment. Combining the influence of changing sea ice conditions and isotopic fractionation by phytoplankton, we explain the decadal decline in δ C-POC values in the Arctic Ocean and partially explain the δ C values in marine mammals with consideration of time-varying integration of δ C values. The response of the arctic ecosystem to ongoing environmental change is stronger than we would predict theoretically, which has tremendous implications for the study of food webs in the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Global change biology
ISSN: 1365-2486
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Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism ...


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