NATO Science Programme:

omputer Network for Arctic Marine Fauna

Development of a Computer Network
on Arctic Marine Fauna (Goals of Project)

The Eurasian-Arctic shelf seas at the periphery of the Arctic Ocean are widely regarded as a key region for our understanding of the global ecological role of the Arctic. Polar marine ecosystems are characterized by extreme conditions: a strongly pulsed seasonal light regime causing a highly variable primary production, combined with constantly low water temperatures and a long-lasting or even permanent ice cover. Generally, the highly adapted Arctic species are very susceptible to even slight variations in their environment. It is, therefore, very likely that global man- induced changes will have the earliest, most intense and presumably well detectable effects in polar regions. Marine ecosystems in Eurasian-Arctic seas may, thus, be used as sensitive indicators of large-scale changes. In order to document this sensitivity, the main interest of the current research of marine biologists from both eastern and western countries is on an analysis of the distribution and composition of Arctic faunal communities.

The costs of activities of western research teams are mostly covered by regular budgets and additional funding by various sources - both national and supra-national. However, important contributions of scientists from Russia are still severely impeded by insufficient equipment and a bad funding situation. In particular, the communication between eastern and western research groups - a prerequisite of any scientific collaboration - needs urgently to be improved.

The objectives of the project proposed here are:

- to foster the communication and collaboration of researchers on the benthic ecology of the Eurasian-Arctic seas by establishing a network of scientists from Russia as well as from Western Europe

- to combine the various biogeographic and ecological data sets sampled in Eurasian-Arctic seas that are available at the participating institutes in a joint database

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