The influence of multiple stressors on heat stress in rapid warming Arctic

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Jakob Thyrring


DKK 350,000




Internationalisation Fellowships


The Arctic is warming 2-3 times faster than the global average and non-indigenous species are assumed to expand into the Arctic seeking a 'thermal refuge' However, temperatures in Arctic Greenland may already expose boreal species to temperatures above their thermal. Arctic warming also cause an unpreceded melt of the ice sheet that lower salinity in coastal waters. Lowered salinity may increase the sensitivity of marine species to thermal extremes, increasing the impacts of warming. Therefore, the overall aim of my project is to understand the consequences off lowered salinity and high summer temperatures on intertidal populations in the Arctic, and to investigate the role of variability among individual animal's thermal tolerance on population dynamics.


Combining a range of temperatures and salinities in the study of Arctic heat stress is unique and will provide a new understanding of the consequences of climate change impacts from single individuals to entire ecosystems. This provides important knowledge on how climate change affects sensitive marine species, ecosystems and the related economies. For example, these research results are particularly important for Greenland as fishing is the primary industry with fish and shellfish export accounting for ~90% of the total export. The new information obtained in this project will also inform and aid stakeholders such as the Arctic Council's effort in protecting the Arctic environment.


Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) will be collected at their northernmost edge in Greenland. Mussels will be acclimated to a range of salinities and exposed to a range of temperatures reflecting temperatures measured in Greenland's intertidal zone. I will calculate body temperature using a heat budget model in which I include environmental measurements including air/water temperatures, solar radiation and long-wave heat transfers, and biotic measurements including shell dimension and morphological parameter. Thermal limits will also be identified via molecular transcriptomic responses using next generation sequencing techniques. I will focus on molecular responses in terms of genes involved in heat shock proteins and protein metabolism to study the extent of protein degradation during stress.

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