Dynamics of Calanus species linked to Oceanographic processes, predators and carbon Sequestration

Project Details


The overall aim of this project seeks to understand zooplankton variability in relation to oceanography and relevant predators within the Iceland-Faroe-Scotland Ridge and the surrounding oceanic environment, along with the fate of overwintering individuals at depth. This region sustain several important fish stocks such as blue whiting, sandeel and Norway pout that rely on zooplankton as prey for growth and survival. The copepod of the genus Calanus is a articularly important food source as it accumulates large amounts of marine lipids, making them very nutritious.
Three 30-year long hydrographic time series, radiating out from the Faroe plateau, have revealed unusual cold and low saline conditions during the mid 1990s. Since 1996 the hydrographic properties have continuously increased and peaking around 2003. In 2016, the lowest salinity and temperature values were recorded since the 1990s. These periods are also registered as ‘key periods’ within the Northeastern Atlantic. Zooplankton samples have been collected simultaneously but these have not been analyzed. Thus, zooplankton dynamics along the three sections in relation to oceanography and relevant predators remains largely unknown.
The seasonal overwintering strategy of C. finmarchicus at depth also makes these copepods essential to deep ocean carbon sequestration. However, the fate and state and the return of these individuals to the surface layers is poorly nderstood.
Through collaboration with Faroe Marine Research Institute (FO) and DTU Aqua (DK), the research program ‘COPS’, which includes a post-doctoral researcher, will address the following objectives:
1. Analyze stored zooplankton samples to obtain novel zooplankton time series
2. Identify prey preference of selected fish species and relate to the feeding conditions
3. Determine the faith of overwintering C. finmarchicus in the overflow through the Faroese Shetland Channel and into the Iceland Basin.

Key findings

Expected outputs are:
1. An understanding of zooplankton variability within the surface, and at depth, in relation to oceanographic conditions.
2. An enhanced understanding of zooplankton variability influences on selected fish species.
3. Estimates of the state, distribution, population mortality, and potential carbon flux.

Effective start/end date1/01/2230/09/24

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


  • Zooplankton
  • Calanus
  • Time series
  • Oceanography
  • Carbon sequestration


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