Work package POL 4: Benthic organisms in polar marine food webs
The question will be addressed to what extent species-specific adaptations shape the
trophic web in polar regions and influence the overall energy flow. The relationship between
food availability and specific life traits in polar marine ectotherms such as slow growth and
late first maturity is of particular interest in comparison to organisms from warmer climates.
What distinguishes polar trophic systems from those in temperate, upwelling, and warm
tropical regions and how do they react to continued global warming and/or anthropogenic
impact? The hypothesis will be tested that compensatory strategies, such as suspension
feeding on the microbial food web, scavenging or carnivory, are predominant and make
polar animals largely independent of the seasonal input. Moreover, to what extent are there
differences between the Southern and Arctic Ocean systems, which differ in age and
degree of isolation from surrounding oceans and shelves?