Rates of warming in the high northern latitudes are amongst the highest globally and are exerting multiple effects on Arctic coastal and shelf ecosystems, including unprecedented changes in the composition and diversity of seafloor communities. How these changes affect community contributions to the provision and mediation of important ecosystem processes, such as the sequestration, transformation and storage of carbon and macro-nutrients, has not been fully considered. This studentship will focus on the benthic assemblages of the north water polynya, an area of year-round open water surrounded by sea ice that lies between Greenland and Canada in northern Baffin Bay, and the Barents Sea, near Svalbard.
A key focus will be to determine changes in faunal composition and activity across a representative gradient of climate related change . These observations will underpin an extensive series of manipulative laboratory and field experiments aimed at determining the extent to which aspects of change (temperature, ocean acidification, light, nutrients) alter faunal contributions to ecosystem functioning. The studentship will then establish how changes in species composition and behaviour interact to affect the stocks and flows of carbon and macronutrients for a representative region of the Arctic shelf under a range of anticipated future scenarios.