Habitat of elusive Northern squid documented by researcher

Apr 07, 2010

New research is shedding light on the preferred habitat of the northern squid, Gonatus fabricii - a key but often overlooked species in Arctic marine food webs.

Squid, along with octopus and (Rossia spp.), play an important role as prey in Arctic waters for species such as narwhal, beluga, seals, cod and Greenland halibut. But, says Kathleen Gardiner, a PhD candidate in the Biological Sciences Department of the University of Manitoba and co-author of a paper in the online edition of Polar Research, little is known about their preferred habitats. Gardiner is remedying that gap by building broad distribution maps using data from other sources.

"I found every reference I could," says Gardiner, who examined international and national databases, museum collections, government reports and published articles.

Identifying the feeding and spawning grounds of is of particular importance right now because of the . The Arctic Ocean is warming and the extent of sea ice is shrinking, exposing more water to light and heat. There are already indications that new species of squid are moving north.

Squid are a high-energy food source for many large marine species. Much of their body mass is liver (digestive glands), which are rich in lipids. A change in the number of squid in Arctic waters could have an impact on species that rely on them as a food source. There is little information available about the temperature tolerance of cephalopods in the Arctic and the relationship to climate change.

Squid can be difficult to track. Some species are quick and can easily out swim . Other species are located in very deep water, which makes them difficult to find. Fortunately, there are better data for some that are regularly taken as bycatch by commercial fishers.

"No one knows if populations are up or down. We don't know what abundance levels are in the Canadian Arctic and much of the Ocean," says Gardiner.

She is hoping her work is the first step toward the development of habitat management policies. "Once we isolate the baseline data and find hot spots, breeding grounds and feeding grounds, we can protect these areas."

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Provided by Arctic Institute of North America

4 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Arctic marine mammals on thin ice

Apr 23, 2008

The loss of sea ice due to climate change could spell disaster for polar bears and other Arctic marine mammals. The April Special Issue of Ecological Applications examines such potential effects, puts them in historical ...

Sonar monitors California squid fishery

Feb 07, 2006

California's $30-million-a-year squid industry has quadrupled during the past decade and now scientists are using sonar to assess squid stocks.

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.