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Polar cod in jeopardy under the retreating Arctic sea ice.


ABSTRACT: The Arctic amplification of global warming is causing the Arctic-Atlantic ice edge to retreat at unprecedented rates. Here we show how variability and change in sea ice cover in the Barents Sea, the largest shelf sea of the Arctic, affect the population dynamics of a keystone species of the ice-associated food web, the polar cod (Boreogadus saida). The data-driven biophysical model of polar cod early life stages assembled here predicts a strong mechanistic link between survival and variation in ice cover and temperature, suggesting imminent recruitment collapse should the observed ice-reduction and heating continue. Backtracking of drifting eggs and larvae from observations also demonstrates a northward retreat of one of two clearly defined spawning assemblages, possibly in response to warming. With annual to decadal ice-predictions under development the mechanistic physical-biological links presented here represent a powerful tool for making long-term predictions for the propagation of polar cod stocks.

SUBMITTER: Huserbraten MBO 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6838109 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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