Persistent shift of Calanus spp. in the southwestern Norwegian Sea since 2003, linked to ocean climate

Inga Kristiansen, Eilif Gaard, Hjálmar Hátún, Sigrún Jónasdóttir, Sofia A. Ferreira

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The southwestern Norwegian Sea is characterized by an inflow of warm and saline Atlantic water from the southwest and cold and less saline East Icelandic Water (EIW), of Arctic origin, from the northwest. These two water masses meet and form the Iceland-Faroe Front (IFF). In this region, the copepod Calanus finmarchicus plays a key role in the pelagic ecosystem. Time-series of C. finmarchicus and Calanus hyperboreus in May and September, extending back to the early 1990s, were studied in relation to phytoplankton bloom dynamics and hydrography. The main reproductive period of C. finmarchicus started consistently earlier south of the IFF, resulting in different life cycles and stage compositions in the two water masses. In 2003, a sudden shift occurred north of the IFF, resulting in a similar phenology pattern to south of the IFF. Before this, only one generation of C. finmarchicus was produced in the Arctic water, but the earlier reproduction enabled the species to produce two generations after 2003. Simultaneously, C. hyperboreus, an expatriate in the EIW, largely disappeared. Food availability is unlikely the reason for the phenological differences observed across the front, as the typical pattern of the phytoplankton spring bloom showed an earlier onset north of the IFF. Temperature and salinity peaked at record high values in 2003 and 2004, and therefore possible links to oceanography are discussed. The dominant role of Calanus spp. and the potential linkages to water mass exchanges may herald strong effects on the ecosystem and pelagic fish in this subpolar Atlantic region under expected climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319–1329
Number of pages11
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Atlantic water
  • Calanus finmarchicus
  • Calanus hyperboreus
  • East Icelandic Water
  • phenology
  • population dynamics
  • southwestern Norwegian sea
  • time-series


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