Based on the information collected, experts will be able to predict how climate change and the development of the region will affect the life of Arctic freshwater organisms in the future. This is reported by TASS with reference to the head of the laboratory of macroecology and biogeography of invertebrates at St. Petersburg State University Maxim Vinarsky.
“Our goal is to study the freshwater fauna of the Arctic zone in its historical aspect. We want to understand how and wherefrom the species now living there came to the Far North, what allowed them to overcome the invisible barrier that prevents most animals from entering the Arctic and settling there. Another problem is predicting what may happen to the Arctic freshwater fauna in the future, in the context of global climate change”, explained Vinarsky.
According to forecasts, climate change can strongly affect the natural habitat of animals in the Arctic. The researchers will primarily study the species of freshwater fish, which make up a significant part of the indigenous peoples’ diet and are an economic resource. In addition, the organisms that are fish’s food, such as freshwater molluscs, will be studied.
Scientists have already conducted more than 15 expeditions to Taimyr, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Bolshezemelskaya tundra, Yamal, Gydan, Alaska and British Columbia. In 2019, expeditions were carried out to the northeast of Canada, Chukotka and Kamchatka. This year, the field research program has been significantly reduced due to the pandemic.
As Maxim Vinarsky emphasized, the material collected during the expeditions is delivered to the laboratory, where DNA taken from organisms is deciphered. DNA analysis makes it possible to understand in what kind of relationship organisms are with each other and with animals living to the south, and also to determine the ways of dispersal.
The project data goes into the global GenBank database, where information on the DNA sequences of animals inhabiting other climatic zones is collected. This gives scientists the opportunity to conduct research on a planetary level.
Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: zapovedsever.ru