The Arctic Ocean is undergoing rapid change with unknown consequences for its ecosystems. Understanding how entire food webs are being reshaped in response to these environmental stressors is crucial in understanding the impacts of future change on Arctic ecosystems.
The central hypothesis of this PhD project is that environmental change has significantly altered the size structure and feeding habits of Arctic zooplankton over the past decade. This hypothesis will be tested by using time-series (2008 to present) zooplankton samples from the northern most route of the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) from Tromso to Svalbard. A novel dual biomarker approach will be used to determine if the food source of Arctic zooplankton has changed and if their trophic position has changed over the past decade. This will be achieved using molecular analysis of zooplankton gut contents and compound-specific N-amino acids in zooplankton and be complimented by molecular analysis of zooplankton species composition and abundance. Zooplankton data sets will be compared to variations in phytoplankton biomass, productivity and sea ice from remote sensing datasets giving insight into how Arctic zooplankton communities are affected by environmental change.