Variation in Serripes groenlandicus (Bivalvia) growth in a Norwegian high-Arctic fjord : evidence for local- and large-scale climatic forcing

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Ambrose, William G.
Carroll, Michael L.
Greenacre, Michael
Thorrold, Simon R.
McMahon, Kelton W.
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Arctic Climate Regime Index
Serripes groenlandicus
Bivalve growth
Benthic community
Climate forcing
We examined the growth rate of the circumpolar Greenland Cockle (Serripes groenlandicus) over a period of 20 years (1983-2002) from Rijpfjord, a high-Arctic fjord in northeast Svalbard (80º10´N, 22°15´E). This period encompassed different phases of large-scale climatic oscillations with accompanying variations in local physical variables (temperature, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, sea ice cover), allowing us to analyze the linkage between growth rate, climatic oscillations, and their local physical and biological manifestations. Standard Growth Index (SGI), an ontogenetically-adjusted measure of annual growth, ranged from a low of 0.27 in 2002 up to 2.46 in 1996. Interannual variation in growth corresponded to the Arctic Climate Regime Index (ACRI), with high growth rates during the positive ACRI phase characterized by cyclonic ocean circulation and a warmer and wetter climate. Growth rates were influenced by local manifestations of the ACRI: positively correlated with precipitation and to a lesser extent negatively correlated with atmospheric pressure. A multiple regression model explains 65% of the variability in growth rate by the ACRI and precipitation at the nearest meteorological station. There were, however, complexities in the relationship between growth and physical variables, including an apparent 1-year lag between physical forcing changes and biological response. Also, when the last 4 years of poor growth are excluded, there is a very strong negative correlation with ice cover on a pan-arctic scale. Our results suggest that bivalves, as sentinels of climate change on multi-decadal scales, are sensitive to environmental variations associated with large-scale changes in climate, but that the effects will be determined by changes in environmental parameters regulating marine production and food availability on a local scale.
Author Posting. © Blackwell, 2006. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Blackwell for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Global Change Biology 12 (2006): 1595-1607, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01181.x.
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