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      Temporal and spatial trends in marine carbon isotopes in the Arctic Ocean and implications for food web studies


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          The Arctic is undergoing unprecedented environmental change. Rapid warming, decline in sea ice extent, increase in riverine input, ocean acidification and changes in primary productivity are creating a crucible for multiple concurrent environmental stressors, with unknown consequences for the entire arctic ecosystem. Here, we synthesized 30 years of data on the stable carbon isotope (δ 13C) signatures in dissolved inorganic carbon (δ 13C‐DIC; 1977–2014), marine and riverine particulate organic carbon (δ 13C‐POC; 1986–2013) and tissues of marine mammals in the Arctic. δ 13C values in consumers can change as a result of environmentally driven variation in the δ 13C values at the base of the food web or alteration in the trophic structure, thus providing a method to assess the sensitivity of food webs to environmental change. Our synthesis reveals a spatially heterogeneous and temporally evolving δ 13C baseline, with spatial gradients in the δ 13C‐POC values between arctic shelves and arctic basins likely driven by differences in productivity and riverine and coastal influence. We report a decline in δ 13C‐DIC values (−0.011‰ per year) in the Arctic, reflecting increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO 2) in the Arctic Ocean (i.e. Suess effect), which is larger than predicted. The larger decline in δ 13C‐POC values and δ 13C in arctic marine mammals reflects the anthropogenic CO 2 signal as well as the influence of a changing arctic environment. Combining the influence of changing sea ice conditions and isotopic fractionation by phytoplankton, we explain the decadal decline in δ 13C‐POC values in the Arctic Ocean and partially explain the δ 13C values in marine mammals with consideration of time‐varying integration of δ 13C values. The response of the arctic ecosystem to ongoing environmental change is stronger than we would predict theoretically, which has tremendous implications for the study of food webs in the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean.


          Warming of the Arctic has led to changes in multiple environmental factors that control the carbon isotope ratio at the base of the food web. Here, we present the first comprehensive spatial and temporal assessment of the carbon isotopic baseline for the Arctic Ocean, which is essential for understanding and predicting changes in Arctic food web structure. The response of the Arctic ecosystem to ongoing environmental change presented here is stronger than we would predict theoretically.

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          Most cited references92

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          Large Decadal Decline of the Arctic Multiyear Ice Cover

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            A global pattern of thermal adaptation in marine phytoplankton.

            Rising ocean temperatures will alter the productivity and composition of marine phytoplankton communities, thereby affecting global biogeochemical cycles. Predicting the effects of future ocean warming on biogeochemical cycles depends critically on understanding how existing global temperature variation affects phytoplankton. Here we show that variation in phytoplankton temperature optima over 150 degrees of latitude is well explained by a gradient in mean ocean temperature. An eco-evolutionary model predicts a similar relationship, suggesting that this pattern is the result of evolutionary adaptation. Using mechanistic species distribution models, we find that rising temperatures this century will cause poleward shifts in species' thermal niches and a sharp decline in tropical phytoplankton diversity in the absence of an evolutionary response.
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              Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice


                Author and article information

                Glob Chang Biol
                Glob Chang Biol
                Global Change Biology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                10 October 2019
                December 2019
                : 25
                : 12 ( doiID: 10.1111/gcb.v25.12 )
                : 4116-4130
                [ 1 ] School of Environmental Sciences University of Liverpool Liverpool UK
                [ 2 ] School of Geosciences University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
                Author notes
                [*] [* ] Correspondence

                Camille de la Vega, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, L69 3GP Liverpool, UK.

                Email: Camille.De-La-Vega@ 123456liverpool.ac.uk

                © 2019 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Pages: 15, Words: 11866
                Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100000270;
                Award ID: NE/P006035/1
                Award ID: NE/P006310/1
                Primary Research Article
                Primary Research Articles
                Custom metadata
                December 2019
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:5.7.2 mode:remove_FC converted:05.12.2019


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