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Netherlands Polar Data Center

Project - Chemicals in arctic food chains: accumulation and potential population effects

Summary

Data on accumulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Arctic food chains is fragmented over monitoring programs covering different locations, periods, substances and species. POP accumulation modelling is largely limited to the lower trophic levels. Yet, high POP residues, associated with population effects, have been observed in Arctic top-predators.
Here, we propose to develop a mechanistic model for accumulation of POPs in non-human aquatic food chains of the Arctic. The model will be tuned and tested using data collected from literature, databases and experts. In addition, new data will be generated for POPs or species that are rarely covered. After the most noxious POPs and vulnerable species have been identified, a population matrix model will be set-up for at least two top-predators (presumably at least polar bears) affected by the chemicals. We will build upon earlier modelling in temperate systems. New features, characteristic for the Artic, like large seasonal changes of internal concentrations in top-predators will be developed.
The food chain accumulation model will allow us to explain high contaminant residues in top-predators. In addition, the matrix population modelling scales up potential contaminant effects on individuals to ecologically relevant endpoints. The model, integrating fragmented information, allows translation of anticipated changes in POP emissions and environmental levels to future Arctic food chain accumulation and corresponding population-level consequences.

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