Waters flowing into the Arctic from sub-Arctic seas carry nutrients and living organisms including planktonic larvae of marine benthic invertebrates. Because of their week to month-long residence time in the water column, some of these larvae have the potential to disperse over long distances before settling to the seafloor. This implies that sub-Arctic species can potentially reach Arctic shelves during their larval stages, though not all find suitable conditions to settle and survive there, at least not yet. There is currently no baseline information on the species composition or seasonality of early life stages of benthic invertebrates in the Atlantic inflow areas of the Arctic. Therefore, this study aims to determine the species composition of the larval assemblage and investigates whether water currents from the south supply benthic invertebrate larvae onto the Barents Sea shelf. Specifically, this Fram Center project supports 1) larval identification through DNA barcoding at a much higher taxonomic level than the ongoing PhD project could otherwise achieve with morphological identification only (year 1); and (2) use of an existing particle-tracking model to help trace the area of origin of larvae (years 1 and 2); and (3) publication and outreach products (year 2). Combined, (1) and (2) help us determine whether larvae belong to species known to occur in the Barents Sea or to non-native and potentially invasive species, and guide predictions of which species may be expected to enter in the future as the climate continues to change.
Project manager: Raphaelle Descoteaux
Project code: 511 272019