Testing the feasibility of maintaining marine environmental indicator organisms

Testing the feasibility of maintaining marine environmental indicator organisms

Project manager: David Blockley, Scientist, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
Others involved: Maia Olsen, Scientist, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

Research project background, purpose and research questions:
Amphipods, small crustaceans sized 1-340 mm, are an important part of marine ecosystems and a source of food for larger organisms, such as fish, birds and whales, which are eaten by the local people. Amphipods are susceptible to pollutants from human activity, including heavy metals, suffering immediate effects through decreased survival/reproduction rates as well as bioaccumulating them in their bodies and passing them on to their predators. To determine these possible effects, ecotoxicity studies, where the organisms are exposed to pollutants in different concentrations, are done. Often ecotoxicity research is done in laboratories outside of Greenland, under local conditions and on specimens that are local to those overseas institutes, but not necessarily found in arctic waters. Hence, these results may not be applicable to Greenland, and a more locally directed approach is in order. In order to perform ecotoxicology tests in Greenland, we must first locate specific types of local amphipods and test the conditions under which they can survive in an ex-situ setting, under arctic conditions. The purpose of this study is to determine our ability to do this and hence provide the framework for further projects, where these conditions would be used to test the impact of pollutants.

Methods of inclusion of society:
This is a small scale lab based study and so does not provide a way for inclusion of society in the work itself at this stage because of its small scale and short duration. However, this would lay the groundwork for future ecotoxicology experiments which could include local students to assist with the work and gain laboratory skills.

Methods of dissemination to society:
This project will lay the groundwork for larger work that will provide results of more general interest. However, because the current proposed project is a small scale study that is meant as an important pilot project that is necessary for further research, the direct results will have limited appeal outside of science. As such the methods of dissemination will be basic and focus on short updates on social media, including brief bulletins and possibly podcasts.

Project start and completion date:
June – July 2020

Granted: 46.444,00 kr.

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