Radionuclides in the Arctic echinoderms have seldom been studied despite their considerable environmental importance. This manuscript covers the results of 90Sr and 137Cs measurements in common echinoderm taxa collected from the Svalbard Bank in the Barents Sea and from two High-Arctic fjords (Isfjorden and Magdalenefjorden). We focused on the echinoid, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, the asteroid, Henricia sanguinolenta, and the ophiuroid, Ophiopolis aculeata. For all echinoderms, the analysis revealed a negative correlation between 90Sr activity and the mass. Thus, we concluded that metals are accumulated faster at a young age when the growth is most rapid. The highest average activities of 137Cs followed the order O. aculeata>H. sanguinolenta>S. droebachiensis. This suggests that bioaccumulation was highly taxon-dependent and could reflect differences in the isotope exposures associated with the diet of echinoderms. The study provides a baseline for understanding radionuclide processes in the High-Arctic benthic echinoderm communities.
Being at the food chain apex, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are highly contaminated with persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Females transfer POPs to their offspring through gestation and lactation; therefore, young cubs present higher POPs concentrations than their mothers. Recent studies suggest that POPs affect the lipid metabolism in female polar bears; however, the mechanisms and impact on their offspring remain unknown. Here, we hypothesized that exposure to POPs differentially alters genome-wide gene transcription in the adipose tissue from mother polar bears and their cubs, highlighting molecular differences in response between adults and young. Adipose tissue biopsies were collected from 13 adult female polar bears and their twin cubs in Svalbard, Norway, in April 2011, 2012, and 2013. Total RNA extracted from biopsies was subjected to next-generation RNA sequencing. Plasma concentrations of summed polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in mothers ranged from 897 to 13620 ng/g wet weight and were associated with altered adipose tissue gene expression in both mothers and cubs. In mothers, 2502 and 2586 genes in total were positively and negatively, respectively, correlated to POP exposure, whereas in cubs, 2585 positively and 1690 negatively genes. Between mothers and cubs, 743 positively and negatively genes overlapped between mothers and cubs suggesting partially shared molecular responses to SPOPs. SPOP-associated genes were involved in numerous metabolic pathways in mothers and cubs, indicating that POP exposure alters the energy metabolism, which, in turn, may be linked to metabolic dysfunction.
Department of Plant Protection, Division of Plant Pathology and Mycology, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Grunwaldzki Sq. 24a, 50-363, Wroclaw, Poland. email@example.com.
Studies on the presence of atmospheric fungi in both Arctic and Antarctic polar areas are rare, and many of them were carried out briefly. Currently, when climate change is a fact, polar areas may be subject to various changes and fluctuations, negatively affecting sensitive polar ecosystems. The paper presents the results of tests on presence of fungi in the air over 30 years after the last investigations at the Svalbard Archipelago. A total of fifteen taxa of fungi were isolated in area of Longyearbyen, the majority of which were saprotrophic fungi of the genus Cladosporium that are associated with dead organic matter. Therefore, the presence of this taxon may be a good bioindicator of changes occurring in the Arctic environment, indirectly indicating the melting of glaciers and exposing increasingly larger areas inhabited by microorganisms, including fungi, which increase in number in the air. Additionally, the number of tourists visiting Longyearbyen is increasing, which may significantly affect the number and type of fungi in the air.
Diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) are important primary producers in a wide range of hydro-terrestrial habitats in polar regions that are characterized by many extreme environmental conditions. Nevertheless, how they survive periods of drought and/or freeze remains unknown. A general strategy of microorganisms to overcome adverse conditions is dormancy, but morphologically distinct diatom resting stages are rare. This study aimed to evaluate the annual cycle of freshwater diatoms in the High Arctic (Central Spitsbergen) and provide an insight into their physiological cell status variability. The diversity and viability of diatom cells were studied in samples collected five times at four study sites, tracing the key events for survival (summer vegetative season, autumn dry-freezing, winter freezing, spring melting, summer vegetative season [again]). For viability evaluation, a multiparameter fluorescent staining was used in combination with light microscopy and allowed to reveal the physiological status at a single-cell level. The proportions of the cell categories were seasonally and locality dependent. The results suggested that a significant portion of vegetative cells survive winter and provide an inoculum for the following vegetative season. The ice thickness significantly influenced spring survival. The thicker the ice layer was, the more dead cells and fewer other stages were observed. The influence of the average week max-min temperature differences in autumn and winter was not proven.
During both winter and summer, Svalbard reindeer selectively feed on different types of vegetation that are not only a source of nutritional value, but also a place of heavy metal accumulation. In the present study, the content of cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, nickel, manganese, and zinc in reindeer excrement was measured. The main aims were to determine the seasonal content of several heavy metals in Svalbard reindeer faeces, and to compare their values in terms of dietary preferences during the year. Summer and winter reindeer excrement was gathered along a designated linear transect running through Bolterdalen and the vegetation described on 1 m2 plots. All of the analysed heavy metals were detected in the reindeer faeces and this fact seems to be connected with the incomplete content of these elements in an animal's tissue after forage digestion. Analysis showed differences between summer and winter excrement in terms of concentrations of cadmium, chromium, iron, and nickel, but no differences were found for the other four elements analysed (manganese, lead, zinc, and copper). However, concentrations of heavy metals in faeces are rather low in comparison with both the levels in the vegetation that may be grazed by reindeer and in reindeer tissue.
The abundance of radionuclides in the Arctic Actiniaria has limited study despite their environmental importance in coastal food chains. Although the Arctic has incurred relatively little contamination by anthropogenic radionuclides as a result of nuclear weapons tests, there are still detectable levels of radionuclide activity observed in marine species. In this study of anthropogenic radionuclide activity in Actiniaria from Spitsbergen we observed levels of 90Sr from 0.92 Bq kg-1dw to 18 Bq kg-1dw and for 137Cs from 1.2 Bq kg-1dw to 12 Bq kg-1dw. The highest values of 90Sr and 137Cs were observed in organisms at stations close to seabird colonies and a river mouth, suggesting that fecal material and melting glaciers may be sources of radionuclides in the Arctic environment. The body mass of individual organisms affected bioaccumulation of 90Sr and 137Cs in Actiniaria, with radionuclide bioaccumulation occurring most intensively in the smaller specimens.
Recently, there have been several studies using open top chambers (OTCs) or cloches to examine the response of Arctic plant communities to artificially elevated temperatures. Few, however, have investigated multitrophic systems, or the effects of both temperature and vertebrate grazing treatments on invertebrates. This study investigated trophic interactions between an herbivorous insect (Sitobion calvulum, Aphididae), a woody perennial host plant (Salix polaris) and a selective vertebrate grazer (barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis). In a factorial experiment, the responses of the insect and its host to elevated temperatures using open top chambers (OTCs) and to three levels of goose grazing pressure were assessed over two summer growing seasons (2004 and 2005). OTCs significantly enhanced the leaf phenology of Salix in both years and there was a significant OTC by goose presence interaction in 2004. Salix leaf number was unaffected by treatments in both years, but OTCs increased leaf size and mass in 2005. Salix reproduction and the phenology of flowers were unaffected by both treatments. Aphid densities were increased by OTCs but unaffected by goose presence in both years. While goose presence had little effect on aphid density or host plant phenology in this system, the OTC effects provide interesting insights into the possibility of phenological synchrony disruption. The advanced phenology of Salix effectively lengthens the growing season for the plant, but despite a close association with leaf maturity, the population dynamics of the aphid appeared to lack a similar phenological response, except for the increased population observed.
A previous study of 76 plant species on Spitsbergen in the High Arctic concluded that structures resembling arbuscular mycorrhizas were absent from roots. Here, we report a survey examining the roots of 13 grass and forb species collected from 12 sites on the island for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) colonisation. Of the 102 individuals collected, we recorded AM endophytes in the roots of 41 plants of 11 species (Alopecurus ovatus, Deschampsia alpina, Festuca rubra ssp. richardsonii, putative viviparous hybrids of Poa arctica and Poa pratensis, Poa arctica ssp. arctica, Trisetum spicatum, Coptidium spitsbergense, Ranunculus nivalis, Ranunculus pygmaeus, Ranunculus sulphureus and Taraxacum arcticum) sampled from 10 sites. Both coarse AM endophyte, with hyphae of 5-10 µm width, vesicles and occasional arbuscules, and fine endophyte, consisting of hyphae of 1-3 µm width and sparse arbuscules, were recorded in roots. Coarse AM hyphae, vesicles, arbuscules and fine endophyte hyphae occupied 1.0-30.7, 0.8-18.3, 0.7-11.9 and 0.7-12.8% of the root lengths of colonised plants, respectively. Principal component analysis indicated no associations between the abundances of AM structures in roots and edaphic factors. We conclude that the AM symbiosis is present in grass and forb roots on Spitsbergen.