In order to compare the abilities of arctic and temperate fish to accumulate PCBs we conduct a metabolic analysis to determine how process rates in a mathematical fish contaminant model change with temperature. We evaluate the model by applying the original and adapted models to estimate PCB concentrations in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Trout Lake, Ontario, Canada, and in arctic char (Salvelinus alphinus) in Lake Øyangen, in the Norwegian high arctic. Modeled concentrations are, for the most part, within 50% of mean measured values and are comparable to the error associated with the fish data. In order to evaluate differences in fish bioaccumulation processes, the model is applied to hypothetical arctic and temperate systems, assuming the same contaminant input values in water and diet. The model predicts that temperate salmonids are able to biomagnify PCBs 6-60% more than arctic salmonids. For all congeners, the lower BMF(MAX) of arctic fish contribute to their lower concentrations. For congeners with log K(ow) 7.0. These processes are controlled by the influence of lipid in the fish and their diet as well as the dependence of growth on temperature. We suggest that fish models originally calibrated for temperate systems may be directly applied to arctic lakes after accounting for the lipid content of the fish and their diet as well as water temperature.
Ringed seals (Pusa hispida) are the most ice-associated of all Arctic pinnipeds. In the Svalbard area, this species has always given birth, moulted and rested on sea ice. In addition, much of their food has been comprised of ice-associated prey. Recently, ringed seals have been reported to be using terrestrial substrates as a haul-out platform in some fjords on the west coast of Spitsbergen. In many cases the seals involved are harbour seals (Phoca vitulina), which are extending their distribution into new areas within the Svalbard Archipelago and which are being misclassified as ringed seals. However, this study reports that terrestrial haulout by ringed seals is also now taking place on rocks exposed at low tide as well as on the coastline. Recent intrusions of warm Atlantic Water (with associated prey) have extended deep into the fjords of western Spitsbergen, resulting in deteriorated ice conditions for ringed seals and expanded habitat for harbour seals. Over the last decade, ringed seals have become more and more confined in coastal areas to narrow bands in front of tidal glacier fronts where Arctic conditions still prevail. In one lagoon area, ringed seals are hauling out on intertidal mud flats in close association with harbour seals. Land can likely replace sea-ice for many of the ringed seals haul-out needs. However, for the small dry-cold adapted ringed seal pups that are normally born in snow lairs on the sea ice, terrestrial haul-out is unlikely to be a viable solution because of predation and thermoregulatory stress.