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OnderzoekArctic CentreResearchResearchAnthropogenic impact on Svalbard ecosystems

Anthropogenic impact

old fox trap
old fox trap

This program will investigate local, regional and global anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial, fresh water and marine arctic ecosystems on Svalbard and consider the management of these resources over time.

Our main focus is on changes of arctic ecosystems of Svalbard due to human activity, such as industrial exploitation of natural resources, environmental pollution, eutrophication, and global climate change. As the present situation is already affected by anthropogenic interference, we consider that it is highly relevant to recognize and understand historical, political and legal drivers of change and their present-day consequences more thoroughly to allow making predictions into the near future and to design appropriate management systems.

We will reveal the footprint of local historic and current human activities in Svalbard and elucidate the motives leading its development. We will study the consequences of the human footprint on terrestrial, fresh water and marine ecosystems, ecosystem functioning and structure, separating stressors into local activities or large scale processes. We will include analyzing relevant political and legal governance processes in order to ensure the sustainable use of Arctic resources.

The core program combines multidisciplinary expertise of partners of the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute and aims at initiating and/or strengthening a lasting collaboration between the main Dutch Polar research institutions with an integrative view on fundamental and strategic research in an international setting. It seeks to develop a pro-active role of the Netherlands in environmental governance in the Arctic and to better inform Dutch society about its historic, present and future link with the Arctic.

There are six subprojects related to this program:

  • Ecological consequences of four hundred years resource exploitation on Svalbard. Lead by Louwrens Hacquebord (Arctic Centre)
  • From historical data to a prediction of the future for geese on arctic tundra? Lead by Maarten Loonen (Arctic Centre)
  • Effects of heavy metal contamination on stress response modulation and stress coping abilities in barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis). Lead by Jan Komdeur (BESO, RUG)
  • Towards monitoring of taxon specific productivity in Arctic coastal phytoplankton. Lead by Anita Buma (Esrig, RUG)
  • Importance of microbial viral lysis over grazing in a changing Arctic Ocean (VIRARCT). Lead by Corina Brussaard (NIOZ)
  • Development of ARCtic biological INDicators for the impact assessment of (new) human activities (ARCIND), Lead by Nico van den Brink and Martine van den Heuvel-Greve (WUR)

Last modified:14 February 2019 5.22 p.m.