Biodiversity and energy transfer to top trophic levels in two contrasting Arctic fjords

 Polish Polar Research 27 (3), 2006: 259-278

ABSTRACT: The food and foraging strategy of fifteen species of seabirds and sea mammals from two high Arctic fjords were analysed. One of the fjords, Kongsfjord, is strongly influenced by warm waters from the Atlantic , while Hornsund is of a more Arctic character. Prey species in the Atlantic waters were more diverse (82 species and 16 functional groups) compared to those of Arctic waters (67 prey species and 14 functional groups). The consumption of top predators from Hornsund in the peak season of July was estimated at 2.86*106 MJ, while that in Kongsfjord was 1.35*106 MJ. For the analysed function of the ecosystem (the transfer of energy to the top trophic levels) the specific character of prey species is of key importance and not the diversity, abundance or biomass per se. Lower species diversity and biomass in Arctic waters is compensated for by the occurrence of larger individuals of these species, which permits top predators to prey directly on lower trophic levels.

Key words: Arctic , climate change, food web, ecosystem function.

Address: (1) Instytut Oceanologii, Polska Akademia Nauk, Powstańców Warszawy 55, 81-712 Sopot, Poland, weslaw@iopan.gda.pl , kwas@iopan.gda.pl , kasiab@iopan.gda.pl, (2) Instytut Biologii, Uniwersytet Gdański, Legionów 9, 80-441 Gdańsk, Poland,  biols@univ.gda.pl