Project: Exploring the controls of picophytoplankton in the Arctic Ocean

Tiny picophytoplankton are important organisms at the base of the Arctic Ocean marine food web. The rapidly changing Arctic environment require an evaluation of the current organization of Arctic picophytoplankton and how future climate scenarios will influence their growth.

Facts about the project

Project managers
Hanna Farnelid
Other project members at Linnaeus University
Elin Lindehoff, Christien Laber, Javier Alegria
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
The Crafoord Foundation, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat
Ecology (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
Research groups
Marine phytoplankton ecology and applications (MPEA)

More about the project

The Arctic Ocean is a rapidly evolving environment with picophytoplankton, the smallest photosynthesizing organisms on earth, playing a critical role at the bottom of the Arctic’s marine food web.  Picophytoplankton are composed of picoeukaryotes and cyanobacteria, and these two groups of organisms compete to grow in this high latitude environment with scarcely limited resources.  While current research suggests that cyanobacteria will become increasingly competitive as the global climate system changes, we are only currently discovering what may give them this competitive edge, and these factors are even less understood in the Earth’s extreme polar climates.

Our research will investigate the composition of current picophytoplankton communities that grow in the Arctic while testing the conditions that favour their growth both in the open sea and beneath the sea ice.  These measurements will help us better understand the trajectory in which the Arctic’s marine food web is headed, as guided by the prevalence of picoeukaryotes and cyanobacteria in this dynamic ecosystem.

The project is part of the research in the research group Marine phytoplankton ecology and applications and in Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems (EEMiS)