Species-specific ecology of small zooplankton in Svalbard fjords (Pseudocalanus in Svalbard fjords)

This project examines the species-specific distribution, population structure, feeding ecology, life cycles and productivity of three closely related ecologically significant species of copepods, especially Pseudocalanus spp. using traditional plankton surveys, experimental work and molecular methods.

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Project type

  • field work
  • arctic field grant (afg)


  • marine biology
  • oceanography

Project Keywords

  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / community dynamics
  • biosphere / aquatic ecosystems / plankton
  • oceans / marine biology / marine invertebrates
  • biosphere / aquatic ecosystems / pelagic habitat
  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / species/population interactions

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Copepods of the genus Pseudocalanus are prominent members of pelagic communities in polar waters, frequently dominating the mesozooplankton, particularly in coastal areas. Two species, P. acuspes and P. minutus, have been historically observed in the Svalbard area; recently, a third species, P. moultoni, which is considered a resident of temperate regions, has been identified using molecular methods. These species may differ substantially in their distribution, life cycles, productivity, and feeding preferences, yet most studies group the species together due to very subtle morphological differences between them, which become indistinguishable in the juvenile and larval stages. We will develop and use novel molecular tools to aid in species identification. Using existing and newly collected samples, we will compare populations of Pseudocalanus spp. in two Svalbard fjords characterized by very different oceanography and biological communities: Van Mijenfjorden and Adventfjorden. Our approach will use a combination of microscopy, experiments and molecular tools to shed light on this ecologically important group of copepods.

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