Food web changes in arctic ecosystems related to climate warming

Authors

  • Roberto Quinlan,

    1. Paleoenvironmental Assessment Laboratory, Department of Geology, University of Toronto, 22 Russell St., Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3B1
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Marianne S.V. Douglas,

    1. Paleoenvironmental Assessment Laboratory, Department of Geology, University of Toronto, 22 Russell St., Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3B1
    Search for more papers by this author
  • John P. Smol

    1. Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory, Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6
    Search for more papers by this author

Roberto Quinlan, Department of Biology, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3, tel. 416 736 2100x40076, fax 416 736 5698, e-mail: rquinlan@yorku.ca

Abstract

Sedimentary records from three Canadian High Arctic ponds on Ellesmere Island, spanning the last several thousand years, show major shifts in pond communities within the last ∼200 years. These paleolimnological data indicate that aquatic insect (Diptera: Chironomidae) populations rapidly expanded and greatly increased in community diversity beginning in the 19th century. These invertebrate changes coincided with striking shifts in algal (diatom) populations, indicating strong food-web effects because of climate warming and reduced ice-cover in ponds. Predicted future warming in the Arctic may produce ecological changes that exceed the large shifts that have already occurred since the 19th century.

Ancillary