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A new ecological study of ostracodes was recently published by Climate R&D scientists.

The Arctic Ocean and its marginal seas are currently undergoing broad climate-related transformations that are affecting biological systems. Changes in sea ice cover, hydrography and circulation strongly influence biological productivity and marine species living on the seafloor. Due to limited yearly and seasonal sampling of chemical, physical and biological parameters, and a lack of studies exploring how those variables interact with each other, a comprehensive understanding of the ecological impacts of Arctic climate change is just beginning to emerge.

This study examines the meiobenthic community of ostracodes in the northern Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas over several decades, and the main environmental factors (i.e. temperature, sediment type, and food sources) that affect ostracode density and species assemblage structure.

The study found ostracode abundance and distribution are tied to bottom temperature, salinity, organic carbon deposition, and sediment substrate that are primarily related to the transit of summer water masses. During the last decade, the study documents an emerging increase in two North Pacific cold-temperate species, Schizocythere ikeyai and Munseyella mananensis. This suggests these species are responding to recent increases in coastal and mid-shelf bottom water temperatures and/or carbon flux to the benthos.

Continued monitoring of temperature-sensitive ostracode species in the Pacific-Arctic region is necessary to provide information on annual and decadal variability in species distributions. This analysis of modern species ecology is important for the interpretation of ostracode faunal data from sediment core records, ultimately allowing us to better monitor and assess past and future ocean changes. The full paper is published in the journal PLOS One at

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