Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Shifting seasonality of Arctic river hydrology alters key biotic linkages among aquatic systems (Award# 0902153)

PI: Deegan, Linda (
Phone: (508) 444.1557  
Institute/Department: Woods Hole Research Center,  
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ARCSS\CSAS
Program Manager: Dr. Neil Swanberg (
Discipline(s): | Biology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). This research will determine how the shifting seasonality of arctic river hydrology alters key biotic linkages within and among lake and stream components of watersheds and may alter the function of the arctic system. Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus) is a quintessential, circumpolar arctic species that provides a model system for understanding the impacts of changing seasonality on arctic ecosystem function because an interconnected and varied landscape (large tundra rivers, small streams and lakes) is required to maintain their population viability. Changes to environmental conditions that disrupt their migration will affect the system-level function of aquatic ecosystems. Grayling serve as food for other biota, including lake trout, birds and humans, and as top-down controls in stream ecosystems suggesting that changes to their populations will have effects that reverberate throughout the coupled river-lake system. The scale and pace of the changes now impacting tundra lakes and streams imparts an urgency to understand how they are linked and how they function as a system. This work will address 4 questions: 1) How are seasonality, rate and distance of grayling migration affected by climate change? 2) Are the seasonality of life-cycles, life-history and attributes of stream insect populations changing in response to climate change? 3) How does changing seasonality of river discharge interact with insect production to affect availability and transfer of stream production to grayling? 4) What is the effect of climate driven disruption of the migratory link on the structure and function of winter refugia? Reseachers will examine the implications of changing climate on key biotic linkages by: 1) retrospective studies of long-term databases of stream flow and temperature and insect and fish productivity and migration, 2) new work on controls on seasonality of migration, stream productivity and trophic transfer and 3) new work on the feedbacks between changing open water season and food webs in winter refugia. This will be integrated into a systems-level model, using grayling as the “currency,” to evaluate the effects of altered linkages among system components on system-level functioning. The broader intellectual merit of this project lies in the integration of work from diverse fields (hydrology, animal physiology, population biology and mathematical modeling) to understand the roles of species in ecosystems. Improved understanding of the interdependence of lake and stream productivity through biotic linkages will advance our general understanding of landscape ecology, the role of animals in ecosystem dynamics, life-history evolution and ecosystem management of fisheries.

Logistics Summary:
Researchers on this 3-year collaboration between 0902153 (Deegan, MBL) and 0902126 (Huryn, U of Alabama) will examine the impact of changing seasonality on grayling migration and how that in turn affects the system-level function of aquatic ecosystems. To collect information for this study, the research team will work in the Kuparuk River system near Toolik Field Station, Alaska. For three field seasons (2010-2012), up to seven researchers will conduct work for the project May – September. In May/June of each year, a team will establish a helicopter-supported remote camp at a Kuparuk headwater lake (Green Cabin Lake) to initiate the down-migration study (this camp will be taken down when the down-migration work is completed). In June/July the researchers will use helicopter support to deploy and maintain a remote antenna tagging array along a 50 Km reach of the Kuparuk. The team will conduct up-migration studies in August/September via a helicopter-supported remote camp similar to that established in the spring. The team will remove their gear at the end of each field season. In addition to the above, team members will conduct population assessments and otolith analysis at remote rivers. Logistics details will be carried under 0902153 in this database.

IAB will provide access to infrastructure and services at Toolik. CPS will provide Toolik user days, helicopter support, and camping and safety gear. All other logistics will be paid by the researchers from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2010Alaska - Green Cabin Lake05 / 05 / 2010 09 / 25 / 20109
2010Alaska - Toolik05 / 05 / 2010 09 / 25 / 20109
2011Alaska - Green Cabin Lake05 / 12 / 2011 09 / 22 / 201119
2011Alaska - Toolik05 / 12 / 2011 09 / 22 / 201119
2012Alaska - Toolik05 / 10 / 2012 09 / 22 / 201215

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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "0902153", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1