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Climate-driven range retraction of an Arctic freshwater crustacean


Markus Lindholm, Norwegian Institute for Water Research/NIVA, Gaustadalléen 21, N-0349 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


1. Species responses to global warming are predicted to be manifest as poleward and upward extension of species ranges, whereas cold-adapted species experience range retractions. We report on recent range retraction of a freshwater crustacean, the Arctic fairy shrimp Branchinecta paludosa (Branchiopoda, Anostraca) from alpine ponds of southern Norway, a southernmost extension of its otherwise arctic range.

2. The species was mapped during two separate surveys, in 1970 and 2011. In 1970, it occurred in numerous ponds from the tree line at 900 m altitude to high alpine sites at 1500 m. Re-sampling of the same ponds 41 years later revealed extinction of populations from ponds along the lowest 200 m of its altitudinal range.

3. Reconstruction of summer temperatures for the periods 1965–70 and 2005–10 revealed a thermal increase for the period, corresponding to a c. 200-m upward shift of the local isotherms. More specifically, the number of warm summer days had doubled in the lowest 200 m of the region, which might be particularly detrimental for the species.

4. The extinctions at lower altitudes were not compensated for by corresponding upward colonisations. The range retraction of B. paludosa is possibly associated with oxygen stress and hypoxia, induced by increased water temperatures.