Fifty-five paleolimnological records from lakes in the circumpolar Arctic reveal widespread species changes and ecological reorganizations in algae and invertebrate communities since approximately anno Domini 1850. The remoteness of these sites, coupled with the ecological characteristics of taxa involved, indicate that changes are primarily driven by climate warming through lengthening of the summer growing season and related limnological changes. The widespread distribution and similar character of these changes indicate that the opportunity to study arctic ecosystems unaffected by human influences may have disappeared.
This study analyzes psbA gene sequences, predicted D1 protein sequences, species relative abundance, and pollution-induced community tolerance in marine periphyton communities exposed to the antifouling compound Irgarol 1051. The mechanism of action of Irgarol is the inhibition of photosynthetic electron transport at photosystem II by binding to the D1 protein. The metagenome of the communities was used to produce clone libraries containing fragments of the psbA gene encoding the D1 protein. Community tolerance was quantified with a short-term test for the inhibition of photosynthesis. The communities were established in a continuous flow of natural seawater through microcosms with or without added Irgarol. The selection pressure from Irgarol resulted in an altered species composition and an inducted community tolerance to Irgarol. Moreover, there was a very high diversity in the psbA gene sequences in the periphyton, and the composition of psbA and D1 fragments within the communities was dramatically altered by increased Irgarol exposure. Even though tolerance to this type of compound in land plants often depends on a single amino acid substitution (Ser(264)-->Gly) in the D1 protein, this was not the case for marine periphyton species. Instead, the tolerance mechanism likely involves increased degradation of D1. When we compared sequences from low and high Irgarol exposure, differences in nonconserved amino acids were found only in the so-called PEST region of D1, which is involved in regulating its degradation. Our results suggest that environmental contamination with Irgarol has led to selection for high-turnover D1 proteins in marine periphyton communities at the west coast of Sweden.
The requirement to assess the impacts of radioactivity in the environment explicitly and transparently is now generally accepted by the scientific community. A recently developed methodology for achieving this end for marine ecosystems is presented within this paper. With its clear relationship to an overarching system, the marine impact assessment is built around components of environmental transfer, ecodosimetry and radiobiological effects appraisal relying on the use of "reference organisms". Concentration factors (CFs), dynamic models and, in cases where parameters are missing, allometry have been employed in the consideration of radionuclide transfer. Dose conversion coefficients (DCCs) have been derived for selected flora and fauna using, inter alia, dose attenuation and chord distribution functions. The calculated dose-rates can be contextualised through comparison with dose-rates arising from natural background and chronic dose-rates at which biological effects have been observed in selected "umbrella" endpoints.
The phytotelmata of the North American pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea are colonised by a great variety of aquatic organisms and, thus, provide an ideal model to study trophic interactions in small freshwater ecosystems. Although algae are discussed as a potential food source for predators, little is known about the structure of algae coenoses in pitchers of S. purpurea. This study aims to elucidate temporal shifts in the algae community structure in pitchers of an allochthonous population of S. purpurea in Saxony, Germany. A total of 78 algae taxa was found in the pitchers. Mean algae abundances in new and old pitchers were similar (2.6 x 10(5) and 2.3 x 10(5) algae ml(-1), respectively). Taxa from the orders Chlamydomonadales, Chlorococcales, and Ochromonadales were the primary colonisers. With increasing age of the pitchers the filamentous green algae from the order Klebsormidiales became more abundant. In contrast, pennate diatoms dominated the algae coenoses in the fen. Algae community structure in vase-shaped 50 ml Greiner tubes was similar to those of natural pitchers. Differences in the temporal patterns of algae coenoses in individual pitchers suggested a colonisation of the pitchers by algae via trapped insects, air and rain water rather than via the surrounding fen. Biomass of algae approximated 0.3 mg C ml(-1), which corresponds to 82.8 % of the living biomass (bacteria, heterotrophic nanoflagellates, algae, protozoans and rotifers). Rotifers were abundant in new pitchers; nematodes and mites were seldom found in all pitchers. A similar qualitative and quantitative composition of the aquatic biocoenoses was observed in pitchers of another allochthonous S. purpurea population growing in Blekinge, Sweden. Biomass of algae represented nearly one quarter of the total organic matter content in the pitchers. Thus, nitrogen and phosphorus compounds present in the algae biomass might be used by the carnivorous S. purpurea plant as additional food source in allochthonous populations in Europe lacking top predators.
We analyzed microbial eukaryote diversity in perennially cold arctic marine waters by using 18S rRNA gene clone libraries. Samples were collected during concurrent oceanographic missions to opposite sides of the Arctic Ocean Basin and encompassed five distinct water masses. Two deep water Arctic Ocean sites and the convergence of the Greenland, Norwegian, and Barents Seas were sampled from 28 August to 2 September 2002. An additional sample was obtained from the Beaufort Sea (Canada) in early October 2002. The ribotypes were diverse, with different communities among sites and between the upper mixed layer and just below the halocline. Eukaryotes from the remote Canada Basin contained new phylotypes belonging to the radiolarian orders Acantharea, Polycystinea, and Taxopodida. A novel group within the photosynthetic stramenopiles was also identified. One sample closest to the interior of the Canada Basin yielded only four major taxa, and all but two of the sequences recovered belonged to the polar diatom Fragilariopsis and a radiolarian. Overall, 42% of the sequences were
There are rich deposits of mineral and fossil natural resources in the Arctic, which make this region very attractive for extracting industries. Their operations have immediate and vast consequences for ecological systems, which are particularly vulnerable in this region. We are developing a management strategy for Arctic watersheds impacted by industrial production. The case study is Lake Imandra watershed (Murmansk oblast, Russia) that has exceptionally high levels of economic development and large numbers of people living there. We track the impacts of toxic pollution on ecosystem health and then--human health. Three periods are identified: (a) natural, pre-industrial state; (b) disturbed, under rapid economic development; and (c) partial recovery, during recent economic meltdown. The ecosystem is shown to transform into a qualitatively new state, which is still different from the original natural state, even after toxic loadings have substantially decreased. Fish disease where analyzed to produce and integral evaluation of ecosystem health. Accumulation of heavy metals in fish is correlated with etiology of many diseases. Dose-effect relationships are between integral water quality indices and ecosystem health indicators clearly demonstrates that existing water quality standards adopted in Russia are inadequate for Arctic regions. Health was also poor for people drinking water from the Lake. Transport of heavy metals from drinking water, into human organs, and their effect on liver and kidney diseases shows the close connection between ecosystem and human health. A management system is outlined that is based on feedback from indices of ecosystem and human health and control over economic production and/or the amount of toxic loading produced. We argue that prospects for implementation of such a system are quite bleak at this time, and that more likely we will see a continued depopulation of these Northern regions.