Researchers study key algae in the marine ecosystem near Cambridge Bay

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Researchers study key algae in the marine ecosystem near Cambridge Bay

As part of a research project, scientists are in Cambridge Bay until Tuesday to collect samples of macroalgae. Their work aims to make an inventory of the biodiversity of this marine species.

A team of scientists is currently in Cambridge Bay, western Nunavut, to do an inventory of the biodiversity of kelp, a species of coastal algae that they consider to be of great importance, although & #x27;it is “understudied” in the Arctic.

Researchers are particularly interested in kelp forests, giant algae, which have crucial functions in coastal ecosystems, since certain marine species depend on them. The main objective of the research is to determine the extent of kelp cover in coastal areas near Cambridge Bay to understand their role in the marine ecosystem.

Arctic kelps are extremely important […] since they constitute a favorable habitat for the entire marine ecosystem, explains the researcher and director of the Center for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration of the Canadian Museum of Nature, Amanda Savoie. The latter oversees the research project carried out in collaboration with Laval University, the ArcticNet research network and Polar Knowledge Canada.

Amanda Savoie relies on museum collections to carry out her research. His field work, which sometimes involves scuba diving, involves collecting new samples.

She and her team have been in Cambridge Bay since mid-August and will remain there until Tuesday. Their work in the field involves, among other things, taking samples of kelps through quadrats, sampling frames that are used to study the distribution of a particular element.

Amanda Savoie also believes that the complex conditions of the terrain, accessible only by scuba diving, explain in particular why Arctic kelps are little studied. The other day, we sampled for an hour… and it was really cold!, she says.

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Scientists Amanda Savoie (left) and Roger Bull (right) look at a sample of algae they just collected.

The Canadian Museum of Nature counts about 175 species of kelp in the Canadian Arctic. However, researchers expect to discover new ones, since the most recent taxonomic analysis dates back to the work of researcher R.K.S. Lee, in the 1960s and 1970s.

So it was an opportunity to try to compare the species he found at the time and those we collect today today, says Amanda Lavoie.

Amanda Savoie handles a sample of dried seaweed in a laboratory at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay.

Ultimately, scientists hope to better understand how climate change is likely to affect marine biodiversity, particularly in this region of the Arctic.

“ With global warming, we know there will be changes. So we need baseline information to be able to detect future changes.

— Amanda Savoie, Researcher, Canadian Museum of Nature

While it's hard for her to draw any conclusions about kelp, she expects warming waters will cause new marine species to appear in the Arctic.

This aspect is of particular interest to Camille Lavoie, a doctoral student in oceanography at Laval University, who is one of the scientists present on site. My project is really to understand which species of invertebrates, such as crabs and fish, depend on this type of habitat and which species do not, she summarizes.

“How will [global warming] increase biodiversity and […] invertebrate abundances? »

— Camille Lavoie, doctoral student in oceanography

An overview of marine biodiversity in the waters from Cape Colborne, near Cambridge Bay.

To conduct their fieldwork, the team works with Cambridge Bay resident John Lyall, who acts as a local guide. I take them to places that are good for diving because I know the surrounding area well, he says. I give them advice or inform them about things to keep in mind.

John Lyall guides scientists to better prepare them for conditions in the field.

The guide, who has been working with scientists for 1985, notably gives them advice on how to dress appropriately. They should dress accordingly, because we are not in the South here, we are in the Arctic.

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