Tiny polar creature must deal with competition
(Nina Kristiansen/Science Nordic, 30 March 2012) -- The notion about Arctic organisms shutting down during winter has been taken for granted until some tiny copepods proved differently. “We don’t know so much about life up there in the Arctic waters during winter because our research voyages are conducted during the summer season,” says Elisabeth Halvorsen, a marine system ecologist at the University of Tromsø. A year-round monitoring station on Svalbard made some observations that caught the attention of scientists. Certain activities were continuing during long Arctic night. This motivated Halvorsen to join in on the research voyage “The Polar Night Cruise” in January this year. It’s rare for researchers to visit distant arctic regions at that time of year. “We were lucky. The extreme storms dubbed “Dagmar” and “Berit” kept the sea from icing over fairly far north,” says Halvorsen. She found that it was far from all peace and quiet and hibernation up there. “On the contrary, we witnessed a great deal of activity. The object of my studies, the copepod Calanus hyperboreus, was already in spring vigour in January.” C. hyperboreus is the largest of three species of the calinus genus of copepods found in Arctic waters. But it isn’t big, only four or five millimetres long. Despite its modest size, the C. hyperboreus is a vital source of food for fish and seabirds. It is most predominant in the Greenland Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
Posted 30 March 2012; 4:20:26 PM. Permalink
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