Impact of Pyrene exposure during overwintering of the Arctic Copepod Calanus glacialis

Kirstine Underbjerg Toxværd, Khuong Van Dinh, Ole Henriksen, Morten Hjorth, Torkel Gissel Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


While ongoing warming and sea ice decline threaten unique Arctic ecosystems, they improve the prospect of exploiting fossil fuels in the seafloor. Arctic Calanus copepods can accumulate oil compounds in the large lipid reserves that enable them to cope with highly seasonal food availability characteristic of the Arctic. While spending a significant part of their lives overwintering at depth, their vulnerability to oil contamination during winter remains unknown. We investigated effects of the hazardous crude oil component pyrene on overwintering Calanus glacialis, a key species in Arctic shelf areas. Females were exposed from December to March and then transferred to clean water and fed until April. We showed that long-term exposure during overwintering reduced survival and lipid mobilization in a dose-dependent manner at concentrations previously considered sublethal. After exposure, strong delayed effects were observed in lipid recovery, fecal pellet, and egg production. We showed that 50% lethal threshold concentrations were at least 300 times lower than expected, and that 50% effect thresholds for pellet and egg production were at least 10 times lower than previously documented. Our study provides novel insights to the effects of oil contamination during winter, which is essential to evaluate ecological impacts of Arctic oil pollution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)10328-10336
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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