Polar organisms have adapted their seasonal cycles to the dynamic interface between ice and water. This interface ranges from the micrometre-sized brine channels within sea ice to the planetary-scale advance and retreat of sea ice. Polar marine ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate change because small temperature differences can have large effects on the extent and thickness of sea ice. Little is known about the interactions between large, long-lived organisms and their planktonic food supply. Disentangling the effects of human exploitation of upper trophic levels from basin-wide, decade-scale climate cycles to identify long-term, global trends is a daunting challenge facing polar bio-oceanography.
Most studies of climate-driven changes in avian breeding phenology have focused on temperate passerines, yet the consequences of such environmental change may be more deleterious for other avian taxa, such as arctic and sub-arctic waders (Charadrii). We therefore examine large-scale climatic correlates of the breeding phenology of one such species (golden plover Pluvialis apricaria), and the timing of emergence of their adult tipulid prey, to assess the potential for climate change to disrupt breeding performance. Golden plover first-laying dates were negatively correlated with both March and April temperature, the mean laying date of first clutches was additionally negatively correlated with March rainfall. The timing of final laying dates were negatively correlated with April temperature only. The timing of tipulid emergence was negatively correlated with May temperature. In combination with historical climatic data, these models suggest a 9-day advancement of golden plover first-laying dates occurred during the 1990s, although this remains within the range of natural variation for the twentieth century. The magnitudes of predicted changes in mean and final laying dates, and the timing of tipulid emergence, were smaller. Climate predictions for 2070-2099 suggest potential advances in first-laying dates by 25 days, whilst the timings of mean and final laying dates are predicted to change by 18 days and 13 days, and tipulid emergence by 12 days. Given the importance of adult tipulids to young golden plover chicks, these changes may result in a mismatch between the timing of first-laying dates and tipulid emergence, so reducing the success of early breeding attempts. Modelling suggests that these changes could reduce breeding success in a South Pennines population by about 11%.
Predators can disproportionately impact the structure and function of ecosystems relative to their biomass. These effects may be exacerbated under warming in ecosystems like the Arctic, where the number and diversity of predators are low and small shifts in community interactions can alter carbon cycle feedbacks. Here, we show that warming alters the effects of wolf spiders, a dominant tundra predator, on belowground litter decomposition. Specifically, while high densities of wolf spiders result in faster litter decomposition under ambient temperatures, they result, instead, in slower decomposition under warming. Higher spider densities are also associated with elevated levels of available soil nitrogen, potentially benefiting plant production. Changes in decomposition rates under increased wolf spider densities are accompanied by trends toward fewer fungivorous Collembola under ambient temperatures and more Collembola under warming, suggesting that Collembola mediate the indirect effects of wolf spiders on decomposition. The unexpected reversal of wolf spider effects on Collembola and decomposition suggest that in some cases, warming does not simply alter the strength of top-down effects but, instead, induces a different trophic cascade altogether. Our results indicate that climate change-induced effects on predators can cascade through other trophic levels, alter critical ecosystem functions, and potentially lead to climate feedbacks with important global implications. Moreover, given the expected increase in wolf spider densities with climate change, our findings suggest that the observed cascading effects of this common predator on detrital processes could potentially buffer concurrent changes in decomposition rates.
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Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are major predators that may reshape marine ecosystems via top-down forcing. Climate change models predict major reductions in sea ice with the subsequent expectation for readjustments of species' distribution and abundance. Here, we measure changes in killer whale distribution in the Hudson Bay region with decreasing sea ice as an example of global readjustments occurring with climate change. We summarize records of killer whales in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Foxe Basin in the eastern Canadian Arctic and relate them to an historical sea ice data set while accounting for spatial and temporal autocorrelation in the data. We find evidence for "choke points," where sea ice inhibits killer whale movement, thereby creating restrictions to their Arctic distribution. We hypothesize that a threshold exists in seasonal sea ice concentration within these choke points that results in pulses in advancements in distribution of an ice-avoiding predator. Hudson Strait appears to have been a significant sea ice choke point that opened up .approximately 50 years ago allowing for an initial punctuated appearance of killer whales followed by a gradual advancing distribution within the entire Hudson Bay region. Killer whale sightings have increased exponentially and are now reported in the Hudson Bay region every summer. We predict that other choke points will soon open up with continued sea ice melt producing punctuated predator-prey trophic cascades across the Arctic.
The Arctic climate is changing at an unprecedented rate. What consequences this may have on the Arctic marine ecosystem depends to a large degree on how its species will respond both directly to elevated temperatures and more indirectly through ecological interactions. But despite an alarming recent warming of the Arctic with accompanying sea ice loss, reports evaluating ecological impacts of climate change in the Arctic remain sparse. Here, based upon a large-scale field study, we present basic new knowledge regarding the life history traits for one of the most important species in the entire Arctic, the polar cod (Boreogadus saida). Furthermore, by comparing regions of contrasting climatic influence (domains), we present evidence as to how its growth and reproductive success is impaired in the warmer of the two domains. As the future Arctic is predicted to resemble today's Atlantic domains, we forecast changes in growth and life history characteristics of polar cod that will lead to alteration of its role as an Arctic keystone species. This will in turn affect community dynamics and energy transfer in the entire Arctic food chain.
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From a trophic perspective, a seasonal increase in air temperature and photoperiod propagates as bottom-up pulse of primary production by plants, secondary production by herbivores, and tertiary production by carnivores. However, food web seasonality reflects not only abiotic variation in temperature and photoperiod, but also the composition of the biotic community and their functional responses to this variation. Some plants and animals-here referred to as seasonal specialists-decouple from food webs in winter through migration or various forms of metabolic arrest (e.g., senescence, diapause, and hibernation), whereas some plants and resident animals-here referred to as seasonal generalists-remain present and trophically coupled in winter. The co-occurrence of species with divergent responses to winter introduces seasonal variation in interaction strengths, resulting in summer-to-winter differences in trophic organization. Autumn cooling and shortening day length arrests primary productivity and cues seasonal herbivores to decouple, leaving generalist carnivores to concentrate their predation on the few generalist herbivores that remain resident, active, and vulnerable to predation in winter, which themselves feed on the few generalist plant structures available in winter. Thus, what was a bottom-up pulse, spread among many species in summer, including highly productive seasonal specialists, reverses into strong top-down regulation in winter that is top-heavy, and concentrated among a small number of generalist herbivores and their winter foods. Intermediate-sized, generalist herbivores that remain active and vulnerable to predation in winter are likely to be keystone species in seasonal food webs because they provide the essential ecosystem service of turning summer primary productivity into winter food for carnivores. Empirical examination of terrestrial mammals and their seasonal trophic status in the boreal forest and across an arctic-to-tropics seasonality gradient indicates seasonal specialization is more common among herbivores, small body sizes, and in regions with intermediate seasonality, than among carnivores, large body size, and regions where summers are very short or very long. Better understanding of food webs in seasonal environments, including their vulnerability and resilience to climate change, requires a multi-season perspective.
Sustained observations (SOs) have provided invaluable information on the ocean's biology and biogeochemistry for over 50 years. They continue to play a vital role in elucidating the functioning of the marine ecosystem, particularly in the light of ongoing climate change. Repeated, consistent observations have provided the opportunity to resolve temporal and/or spatial variability in ocean biogeochemistry, which has driven exploration of the factors controlling biological parameters and processes. Here, I highlight some of the key breakthroughs in biological oceanography that have been enabled by SOs, which include areas such as trophic dynamics, understanding variability, improved biogeochemical models and the role of ocean biology in the global carbon cycle. In the near future, SOs are poised to make progress on several fronts, including detecting climate change effects on ocean biogeochemistry, high-resolution observations of physical-biological interactions and greater observational capability in both the mesopelagic zone and harsh environments, such as the Arctic. We are now entering a new era for biological SOs, one in which our motivations have evolved from the need to acquire basic understanding of the ocean's state and variability, to a need to understand ocean biogeochemistry in the context of increasing pressure in the form of climate change, overfishing and eutrophication.
Natal dispersal allows individuals to reach suitable breeding sites. The effect of present plant phenology as a cue for dispersal into areas with favourable stages of development has been well established across avian and mammalian taxa. However, the effect of past experience is less understood. We studied the effect of past and present phenology of the environment on the direction and distance of natal dispersal in a passerine bird, the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). We monitored spring settlement of local recruits in six nest box plots along a 10-km stretch of a south-north gradient of plant and caterpillar food development. We found that males used both past experience of caterpillar phenology from early life and actual plant phenology during the recruitment season as independent cues for breeding settlement. Males that had experienced a mismatch with the caterpillar food peak as a nestling, and/or those that arrived late in the spring in the recruitment year, moved north of their natal site, whereas males that had experienced a better match with the caterpillars as a nestling, and/or those that migrated earlier in the spring, settled at a similar site or more to the south. In females, no such effects were found, suggesting that the usage of phenological cues is sex specific. In summary, tracking environmental phenology by natal dispersal may represent an effective mechanism for settling in new favourable areas, and may thus potentially cause rapid change of a species' geographical breeding range in response to climate change.
The changing climate will expose boreal forests to rising temperatures, increasing soil nitrogen (N) levels and an increasing risk of herbivory. The single and interaction effects of warming (+2 °C increase), moderate N addition (30 kg ha-1 year-1) and bark herbivory by large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis L.) on growth and emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) from shoots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings were studied in growth chambers over 175 days. In addition, warming and N addition effects on shoot net photosynthesis (Pn) were measured. Nitrogen addition increased both shoot and root dry weights, whereas warming, in combination with herbivory, reduced stem height growth. Warming together with N addition increased current-year shoot Pn, whereas N effects on previous-year shoot Pn were variable over time. Warming decreased non-oxygenated monoterpene (MT) emissions in June and increased them in July. Of individual MT compounds, a-pinene, d-3-carene, ?-terpinene and terpinolene were among the most frequently responsive compounds in warming treatments in the May-July period. Sesquiterpene emissions were observed only from warming treatments in July. Moderate N addition increased oxygenated monoterpenes in May, and MTs in June and September. However, N addition effect on MTs in June was clearer without warming than with warming. Bark herbivory tended to increase MT emissions in combination with warming and N addition 3 weeks after the damage caused by weevils. Of individual compounds in other BVOC blends, herbivory increased the emissions of methyl-benzene, benzene and hexanal in July. Hence, though both warming and N addition have a potential to change BVOC emissions from Scots pines, the N effect may also be partly cancelled by warming. Furthermore, herbivory pressure in combination with climate warming and N addition may, at least periodically, increase BVOC release to the atmosphere from young Scots pine seedlings.
Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. email@example.com
Climate change will alter marine ecosystems; however, the complexity of the food webs, combined with chronic undersampling, constrains efforts to predict their future and to optimally manage and protect marine resources. Sustained observations at the West Antarctic Peninsula show that in this region, rapid environmental change has coincided with shifts in the food web, from its base up to apex predators. New strategies will be required to gain further insight into how the marine climate system has influenced such changes and how it will do so in the future. Robotic networks, satellites, ships, and instruments mounted on animals and ice will collect data needed to improve numerical models that can then be used to study the future of polar ecosystems as climate change progresses.
There is a pressing need to understand how changing climate interacts with land-use change to affect predator-prey interactions in fragmented landscapes. This is particularly true in boreal ecosystems facing fast climate change and intensification in forestry practices. Here, we investigated the relative influence of autumn climate and habitat quality on the food-storing behaviour of a generalist predator, the pygmy owl, using a unique data set of 15?850 prey items recorded in western Finland over 12?years. Our results highlighted strong effects of autumn climate (number of days with rainfall and with temperature
We studied the effects of future climate change scenarios on plankton communities of a Norwegian fjord using a mesocosm approach. After the spring bloom, natural plankton were enclosed and treated in duplicates with inorganic nutrients elevated to pre-bloom conditions (N, P, Si; eutrophication), lowering of 0.4 pH units (acidification), and rising 3°C temperature (warming). All nutrient-amended treatments resulted in phytoplankton blooms dominated by chain-forming diatoms, and reached 13-16 µg chlorophyll (chl) a l-1. In the control mesocosms, chl a remained below 1 µg l-1. Acidification and warming had contrasting effects on the phenology and bloom-dynamics of autotrophic and heterotrophic microplankton. Bacillariophyceae, prymnesiophyceae, cryptophyta, and Protoperidinium spp. peaked earlier at higher temperature and lower pH. Chlorophyta showed lower peak abundances with acidification, but higher peak abundances with increased temperature. The peak magnitude of autotrophic dinophyceae and ciliates was, on the other hand, lowered with combined warming and acidification. Over time, the plankton communities shifted from autotrophic phytoplankton blooms to a more heterotrophic system in all mesocosms, especially in the control unaltered mesocosms. The development of mass balance and proportion of heterotrophic/autotrophic biomass predict a shift towards a more autotrophic community and less-efficient food web transfer when temperature, nutrients and acidification are combined in a future climate-change scenario. We suggest that this result may be related to a lower food quality for microzooplankton under acidification and warming scenarios and to an increase of catabolic processes compared to anabolic ones at higher temperatures.
Apex predators may buffer bottom-up driven ecosystem change, as top-down suppression may dampen herbivore and mesopredator responses to increased resource availability. However, theory suggests that for this buffering capacity to be realized, the equilibrium abundance of apex predators must increase. This raises the question: will apex predators maintain herbivore/mesopredator limitation, if bottom-up change relaxes resource constraints? Here, we explore changes in mesopredator (red fox Vulpes vulpes) abundance over 220 years in response to eradication and recovery of an apex predator (Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx), and changes in land use and climate which are linked to resource availability. A three-step approach was used. First, recent data from Finland and Sweden were modelled to estimate linear effects of lynx density, land use and winter temperature on fox density. Second, lynx density, land use and winter temperature was estimated in a 22 650 km(2) focal area in boreal and boreo-nemoral Sweden in the years 1830, 1920, 2010 and 2050. Third, the models and estimates were used to project historic and future fox densities in the focal area. Projected fox density was lowest in 1830 when lynx density was high, winters cold and the proportion of cropland low. Fox density peaked in 1920 due to lynx eradication, a mesopredator release boosted by favourable bottom-up changes - milder winters and cropland expansion. By 2010, lynx recolonization had reduced fox density, but it remained higher than in 1830, partly due to the bottom-up changes. Comparing 1830 to 2010, the contribution of top-down limitation decreased, while environment enrichment relaxed bottom-up limitation. Future scenarios indicated that by 2050, lynx density would have to increase by 79% to compensate for a projected climate-driven increase in fox density. We highlight that although top-down limitation in theory can buffer bottom-up change, this requires compensatory changes in apex predator abundance. Hence apex predator recolonization/recovery to historical levels would not be sufficient to compensate for widespread changes in climate and land use, which have relaxed the resource constraints for many herbivores and mesopredators. Variation in bottom-up conditions may also contribute to context dependence in apex predator effects.
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide, , Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, , Boulder, CO, USA, Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, , Boulder, CO, USA, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, University of Otago, , Dunedin, New Zealand, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, , Berkeley, CA, USA, Center for Macroecology, Evolution, and Climate, University of Copenhagen, , Copenhagen, Denmark, Department of Biology, Western Washington University, , Bellingham, WA, USA, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, , Cambridge, MA, USA, Department of Geology, Greenfield Community College, , Greenfield, MA, USA, Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, , Madrid, Spain, Imperial College London, , Silwood Park Campus, Berkshire, UK.
One of the grand goals of historical biogeography is to understand how and why species' population sizes and distributions change over time. Multiple types of data drawn from disparate fields, combined into a single modelling framework, are necessary to document changes in a species's demography and distribution, and to determine the drivers responsible for change. Yet truly integrated approaches are challenging and rarely performed. Here, we discuss a modelling framework that integrates spatio-temporal fossil data, ancient DNA, palaeoclimatological reconstructions, bioclimatic envelope modelling and coalescence models in order to statistically test alternative hypotheses of demographic and potential distributional changes for the iconic American bison (Bison bison). Using different assumptions about the evolution of the bioclimatic niche, we generate hypothetical distributional and demographic histories of the species. We then test these demographic models by comparing the genetic signature predicted by serial coalescence against sequence data derived from subfossils and modern populations. Our results supported demographic models that include both climate and human-associated drivers of population declines. This synthetic approach, integrating palaeoclimatology, bioclimatic envelopes, serial coalescence, spatio-temporal fossil data and heterochronous DNA sequences, improves understanding of species' historical biogeography by allowing consideration of both abiotic and biotic interactions at the population level.
In highly seasonal environments, offspring production by vertebrates is timed to coincide with the annual peak of resource availability. For herbivores, this resource peak is represented by the annual onset and progression of the plant growth season. As plant phenology advances in response to climatic warming, there is potential for development of a mismatch between the peak of resource demands by reproducing herbivores and the peak of resource availability. For migratory herbivores, such as caribou, development of a trophic mismatch is particularly likely because the timing of their seasonal migration to summer ranges, where calves are born, is cued by changes in day length, while onset of the plant-growing season on the same ranges is cued by local temperatures. Using data collected since 1993 on timing of calving by caribou and timing of plant growth in West Greenland, we document the consequences for reproductive success of a developing trophic mismatch between caribou and their forage plants. As mean spring temperatures at our study site have risen by more than 4 degrees C, caribou have not kept pace with advancement of the plant-growing season on their calving range. As a consequence, offspring mortality has risen and offspring production has dropped fourfold.
This paper focuses on how food web structure and interactions among species affects the vulnerability, due to environmental variability, to extinction of species at different positions in model food webs. Vulnerability is here not measured by a traditional extinction threshold but is instead inspired by the IUCN criteria for endangered species: an observed rapid decline in population abundance. Using model webs influenced by stochasticity with zero autocorrelation, we investigate the ecological determinants of species vulnerability, i.e. the trophic interactions between species and food web structure and how these interact with the risk of sudden drops in abundance of species. We find that (i) producers fulfil the criterion of vulnerable species more frequently than other species, (ii) food web structure is related to vulnerability, and (iii) the vulnerability of species is greater when involved in a strong trophic interaction than when not. We note that our result on the relationship between extinction risk and trophic position of species contradict previous suggestions and argue that the main reason for the discrepancy probably is due to the fact that we study the vulnerability to environmental stochasticity and not extinction risk due to overexploitation, habitat destruction or interactions with introduced species. Thus, we suggest that the vulnerability of species to environmental stochasticity may be differently related to trophic position than the vulnerability of species to other factors. Earlier research on species extinctions has looked for intrinsic traits of species that correlate with increased vulnerability to extinction. However, to fully understand the extinction process we must also consider that species interactions may affect vulnerability and that not all extinctions are the result of long, gradual reductions in species abundances. Under environmental stochasticity (which importance frequently is assumed to increase as a result of climate change) and direct and indirect interactions with other species some extinctions may occur rapidly and apparently unexpectedly. To identify the first declines of population abundances that may escalate and lead to extinctions as early as possible, we need to recognize which species are at greatest risk of entering such dangerous routes and under what circumstances. This new perspective may contribute to our understanding of the processes leading to extinction of populations and eventually species. This is especially urgent in the light of the current biodiversity crisis where a large fraction of the world's biodiversity is threatened.
BACKGROUND: The dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) is distributed along temperate, coastal regions of New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, and Peru where it feeds on schooling anchovy, sardines, and other small fishes and squid tightly associated with temperate ocean sea surface temperatures. Previous studies have suggested that the dusky dolphin dispersed in the Southern Hemisphere eastward from Peru via a linear, temperate dispersal corridor provided by the circumpolar west-wind drift. With new mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data, we propose an alternative phylogeographic history for the dusky dolphin that was structured by paleoceanographic conditions that repeatedly altered the distribution of its temperate prey species during the Plio-Pleistocene. RESULTS: In contrast to the west-wind drift hypothesis, phylogenetic analyses support a Pacific/Indian Ocean origin, with a relatively early and continued isolation of Peru from other regions. Dispersal of the dusky dolphin into the Atlantic is correlated with the history of anchovy populations, including multiple migrations from New Zealand to South Africa. Additionally, the cooling of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific led to the divergence of anchovy populations, which in turn explains the north-south equatorial transgression of L. obliquidens and the subsequent divergence of L. obscurus in the Southern Hemisphere. CONCLUSION: Overall, our study fails to support the west-wind drift hypothesis. Instead, our data indicate that changes in primary productivity and related abundance of prey played a key role in shaping the phylogeography of the dusky dolphin, with periods of ocean change coincident with important events in the history of this temperate dolphin species. Moderate, short-term changes in sea surface temperatures and current systems have a powerful effect on anchovy populations; thus, it is not infeasible that repeated fluctuations in anchovy populations continue to play an important role in the history of coastal dolphin populations.
The aim of this study was to detect vegetation change and to examine trophic interactions in a Sphagnum-dominated mire in response to raised temperature and nitrogen (N) addition. A long-term global-change experiment was established in 1995, with monthly additions of N (30 kg x ha(-1) x yr(-1)) and sulfur (20 kg x ha(-1) x yr(-1)) during the vegetation period. Mean air temperature was raised by 3.6 degrees C with warming chambers. Vegetation responses were negligible for all treatments for the first four years, and no sulfur effect was seen during the course of the experiment. However, after eight years of continuous treatments, the closed Sphagnum carpet was drastically reduced from 100% in 1995 down to 41%, averaged over all N-treated plots. Over the same period, total vascular plant cover (of the graminoid Eriophorum vaginatum and the two dwarf-shrubs Andromeda polifolia and Vaccinium oxycoccos) increased from 24% to an average of 70% in the N plots. Nitrogen addition caused leaf N concentrations to rise in the two dwarf-shrubs, while for E. vaginatum, leaf N remained unchanged, indicating that the graminoid to a larger extent than the dwarf-shrubs allocated supplemented N to growth. Concurrent with foliar N accumulation of the two dwarf-shrubs, we observed increased disease incidences caused by parasitic fungi, with three species out of 16 showing a significant increase. Warming caused a significant decrease in occurrence of three parasitic fungal species. In general, decreased disease incidences were found in temperature treatments for A. polifolia and in plots without N addition for V. oxycoccos. The study demonstrates that both bryophytes and vascular plants at boreal mires, only receiving background levels of nitrogen of about 2 kg x ha(-1) x yr(-1), exhibit a time lag of more than five years in response to nitrogen and temperature rise, emphasizing the need for long-term experiments. Moreover, it shows that trophic interactions are likely to differ markedly in response to climate change and increased N deposition, and that these interactions might play an important role in controlling the change in mire vegetation composition, with implications for both carbon sequestration and methane emission.
The Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing one of the fastest rates of regional climate change on Earth, resulting in the collapse of ice shelves, the retreat of glaciers and the exposure of new terrestrial habitat. In the nearby oceanic system, winter sea ice in the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas has decreased in extent by 10% per decade, and shortened in seasonal duration. Surface waters have warmed by more than 1 K since the 1950s, and the Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current has also warmed. Of the changes observed in the marine ecosystem of the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region to date, alterations in winter sea ice dynamics are the most likely to have had a direct impact on the marine fauna, principally through shifts in the extent and timing of habitat for ice-associated biota. Warming of seawater at depths below ca 100 m has yet to reach the levels that are biologically significant. Continued warming, or a change in the frequency of the flooding of CDW onto the WAP continental shelf may, however, induce sublethal effects that influence ecological interactions and hence food-web operation. The best evidence for recent changes in the ecosystem may come from organisms which record aspects of their population dynamics in their skeleton (such as molluscs or brachiopods) or where ecological interactions are preserved (such as in encrusting biota of hard substrata). In addition, a southwards shift of marine isotherms may induce a parallel migration of some taxa similar to that observed on land. The complexity of the Southern Ocean food web and the nonlinear nature of many interactions mean that predictions based on short-term studies of a small number of species are likely to be misleading.
Large variations exist in the size, abundance and biota of the two principal categories of freshwater ecosystems, lotic (flowing water; e.g., rivers, streams, deltas and estuaries) and lentic (standing water; lakes, ponds and wetlands) found across the circumpolar Arctic. Arctic climate, many components of which exhibit strong variations along latitudinal gradients, directly affects a range of physical, chemical and biological processes in these aquatic systems. Furthermore, arctic climate creates additional indirect ecological effects through the control of terrestrial hydrologic systems and processes, particularly those associated with cryospheric components such as permafrost, freshwater ice and snow accumulation/ablation. The ecological structure and function of arctic freshwater systems are also controlled by external processes and conditions, particularly those in the headwaters of the major arctic rivers and in the adjacent marine environment. The movement of physical, chemical and biotic components through the interlinked lentic and lotic freshwater systems are major determinants of arctic freshwater ecology.