Arctic sea-ice ecosystem
Arctic_sea-iceArctic sea ice is a unique ecosystem providing habitat to many ice-associated species, including micro-organisms, fish, birds, and marine mammals. Although Arctic sea ice has decreased substantially in extent and thickness in recent years, the response of individual species to changes in sea ice depends on its ability to adapt and its natural history, as well as the scale of environmental change. Information to assess the status and trends of ice-associated species is very limited, and in some cases the relationship between sea ice and species is not entirely understood. Continued sea ice loss due to climate change is expected to lead to changes in the sea-ice ecosystem towards a pelagic, sub-Arctic ecosystem over a larger area. Increased production in open water may increase prey concentrations for some species, such as bowhead whales; however, with less ice there will be less ice algae, affecting bottom-feeding marine species. Continued warming and continued reductions in sea ice will likely result in the northward expansion of sub-Arctic species, with the associated potential for increase in disease, predation, and competition for food.