e-CBMP Newsletter
Fall 2014
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Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program            Volume 8 Issue 2

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chairsFrom the Chairs

Dear Friends,

Welcome back from your holidays and field seasons!


The CBMP has been busy this summer establishing the Coastal Expert Monitoring Group (CEMG). We congratulate CEMG co-chairs Donald McLennan of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station and Carl Markon of the United States Geological Survey and the rest of the CEMG on their formation and initial meeting in Akureyri, Iceland this September.


Members of the CEMG are working to develop the Arctic Coastal Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, a multi-disciplinary, multi-knowledge base, integrated, pan-Arctic, long-term biodiversity monitoring plan. This Coastal Plan will be the fourth and final integrated plan, and will join the completed Marine, Freshwater and Terrestrial Plans as a suite of biodiversity monitoring plans produced by the CBMP.


This issue of the newsletter focuses on the Arctic coastal environment. From the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment:


"Coastal zones, especially over the relatively shallow continental shelf and banks, are particularly productive marine areas. Along coastlines, the mixing of marine water with nutrient-rich fresh water, from land-based drainages and melting sea ice, enhances productivity and attracts large concentrations of marine mammals. Migratory marine mammals rely on this spatially-concentrated ocean productivity for foraging opportunities. Deltas and offshore plumes from the major rivers (notably the Mackenzie and Lena) are heavily used feeding areas. Coastlines and nearshore ice and barrier islands are particularly important for polar bears, combining high-value habitats for reproduction and resting with relatively high marine productivity especially in spring and summer. Coastal zones are particularly at risk because expanding human activities (e.g. shipping, fishing, oil and gas developments, transportation infrastructure and settlements) are and will be concentrated in and beside these zones of high ecological productivity and easier access to resources." (CAFF; ABA, 2013: 121-122)


Arctic coastal zones are vitally important hubs of activity - for biodiversity and for people. Given the importance of and threats to these systems, the work of the  CEMG is imperative and urgent. In this issue they will present an initial country review of coastal monitoring efforts and provide results from their discussion on the definition of "coastal zone". On this last point, collaboration with other CBMP Steering Groups will ensure potential areas of overlap are addressed in a well-coordinated and consolidated manner.


In addition, we hope share progress from the CBMP Steering Groups and Expert Networks with you at the upcoming Arctic Biodiversity Congress, December 2-4,2014 in Trondheim, Norway. We have a strong placement in the program:


December 2:


December 3


December 4


Check out the entire Arctic Biodiversity Congress program here. We will also have several poster presentations. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing our thoughts and experiences with you at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress.


In the meantime, enjoy the newsletter and the focus on the coastal environment. 



John Payne and Tom Christensen

Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program


coast0Special report from the newly-formed CBMP Coastal Expert Monitoring Group


coast1CBMP Coastal Expert Monitoring Group starts its work


Attendees of the CBMP Coastal Expert Monitoring Group's meeting in Akureyri. Photo: K�ri L�russon

Formed in May 2014, the CBMP Coastal Expert Monitoring Group (CEMG) has begun working on the fourth and final CBMP integrated circumpolar monitoring plan, the Arctic Coastal Biodiversity Monitoring Plan.


The CEMG is co-led by Canada (Donald McLennan) and the USA (Carl Markon), with appointed representatives from Norway (Maria Pettersvik Arvnes), Greenland/Denmark (Susse Wegeberg) and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (Carolina Behe). The CEMG is awaiting Icelandic and Russian nominations. Tom Christiansen (CBMP co-lead) and Tom Barry (CAFF Secretariat) have also been involved in the initial meetings.

Activities to date include two teleconferences since the formation CEMG, and a face to face meeting held in Akureyri, Iceland in September 2014.


Accomplishments include:

  1. Finalizing of the Terms of Reference, to be approved by the CAFF Board
  2. Establishing an overview of ongoing monitoring activities by each country
  3. Creating an outline with writing assignments for drafting of the CBMP Coastal Background Paper; and
  4. Leading a discussion on the geographic boundaries and the Coastal CBMP in relation to the other three CBMP Steering Groups - Marine, Freshwater, and Terrestrial

Coastal wetlands. Photo: Donald McLennan

coast2Defining the Coastal Domain


Arctic coasts are that place where tundra borders the Arctic seas, and where rivers large and small flow into the bays, gulfs and straits of the arctic marine environment. Most importantly arctic coasts are the main home for the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, and the principal site for renewed industrial development, including oil and gas exploration, increased shipping associated with accelerating mining activities and increasing, coastal-based tourism.  


Arctic marine coastal environments are vast and extremely complex systems with characteristics distinct from their offshore counterparts and from those located in more temperate latitudes. It is here that disproportionate amounts of freshwater and associated material loads of terrestrial origin are discharged into their adjacent seas. The resulting brackish and often turbid waters are typically constrained to the upper 10 to 30 m of the surface and inner 10 to 30 km of the coast. Being bounded by seasonal sea ice at their surface, and continuous permafrost at their base, they are among the most rapidly impacted environments on Earth under altered climate conditions, with attendant changes in e.g., light regime, wave action and erosion.   

Red knots along Porsanger Fjord, Northern Norway. Photo: Peter Prokosch, UNEP Grid-Arendal


Similarly, terrestrial ecosystems that abut the ocean are directly and indirectly influenced by ocean water and marine weather. For example, the reduction in near-coastal sea ice in many areas of the Arctic has had a significant terrestrial warming effect and has driven vegetation 'greening' at distances 10s to 100s of kilometres inland from the ocean (Bhatt et al 2014). Clearly a definition of 'coastal' that includes coastal climate driven effects would include much of the area defined by the CBMP Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, where the domain at the ocean boundary is defined as '...all ecosystems and respective constituent organisms from the marine high-water mark, inland.'


To simplify the definition of the coastal domain, and to mesh with the domain defined by the CBMP Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, the domain of the Coastal Monitoring Plan will include intertidal, sub-tidal and littoral areas outwards to 30 km from the coast and to 30 m depth, except where biota/habitats controlled by coastal processes go deeper than 30m'


Similarly, to mesh with the domain defined by the CBMP Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, the domain of the Coastal Monitoring Plan will stop at the high sea water mark, and thus will only include coastal ecosystems directly affected by marine water. For clarity the Coastal Domain will include inter-tidal zones, the estuarine portions of deltas, coastal-trapped boundary currents, coastal wetlands periodically or regularly inundated by sea water, areas affected by historic storm surges, actively eroding shoreline zones, barrier islands and spits, lagoons and marine connected lakes, salt pools, and coastal dunes affected by modern marine processes.


An important caveat on this definition is where a country has already defined 'coastal' for pre-existing programs, and prefers to stay with that definition, then that country will use their existing definition.


Contact: Donald McLennan, Canadian High Arctic Research Station and Carl Markon, United States Geological Survey



cbmpnewsCBMP News




marine_updateWork on the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report begins

Attendees of the CBMP Marine Steering Group and Expert Networks annual meeting, Nuuk, Greenland. Photo: Fernando Ugarte

At the annual CBMP Marine meeting in Nuuk, Greenland from September 30-October 2 the Marine Steering Group and Expert Networks decided how to move forward with the development of the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report.


The Report, scheduled for release at the 2017 Arctic Council Ministerial, will describe the state and condition of key aspects of Arctic biodiversity and provide a regular reporting format for the implementation of the CBMP Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring Plans. Experts gathered to discuss how to organize their work to report on the ongoing biodiversity monitoring already underway in the marine environment.


It was also announced the Russia will join Norway as co-chairs of the CBMP Marine Steering Group. Vadim Mokievsky will act as Russian co-chair until 2017, while Reidar Hindrum remains the Norwegian co-chair for another year. The Expert Networks (sea ice biota, plankton, benthos, fishes, marine mammals) also selected leads.


Contact: Reidar Hindrum, Norwegian Environment Agency and Vadim Mokievsky, P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Russian Academy of Sciences




jasmCBMP Freshwater Steering Group Special Session at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon, May 18-23, 2014

Members of the CBMP Freshwater Steering Group (FSG) organized and chaired a special session on Arctic freshwater biodiversity at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting (JASM) in Portland, Oregon, USA. The well-attended, full-day session began with a keynote presentation from Dr. Sandy Milner (UK) that outlined shifts in biotic communities of Arctic and alpine streams in response to climate change along a latitudinal gradient from the French Pyrenees to Svalbard. The second keynote presentation of the day was given by Dr. Warwick Vincent (Canada), and provided an overview of observed biogeochemical changes to thaw lakes in response to climate change in the Canadian Arctic. Oral presentations were given by three FSG members and six members of national Freshwater Expert Networks. In addition, FSG members presented a poster outlining the CBMP Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. In total, the special session featured 23 oral presentations and eight poster presentations by scientists from Austria, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, UK, and USA. The high attendance throughout the session indicated that interest in Arctic and alpine research is indeed growing in the freshwater scientific community.

The JASM international scientific meeting took place from May 18 to 23, 2014, and brought together four aquatic science organizations: the Society for Freshwater Science, the Phycological Society of America, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Society of Wetland Scientists. The special session, entitled "Ecological Change in Arctic and Alpine Freshwaters," was designed to include presentations from the international scientific community summarizing ecological trends and challenges in Arctic freshwater systems.

Contact: Joseph Culp, Environment Canada and Willem Goedkoop, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

freshwaterupdateFreshwater Annual Meeting held; progress on metadata made

Attendees of the CBMP Freshwater meeting in Iceland. Photo: K�ri L�russon

The Freshwater Steering Group (FSG) of the CBMP held its 2014 annual meeting at the CAFF office in Akureyri, Iceland June 10-12. The meeting provided an opportunity for FSG country representatives to review the 2014 work plan and deliverables, discuss linkages to other Arctic groups and organizations, and develop strategies for obtaining funding for the coming year. Country representatives presented overviews of national freshwater metadata collection activities and developed an outline for national metadata summary reports that will be completed in October. A circumpolar summary of freshwater monitoring metadata will be presented at a special session that the FSG is organizing at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress that will be held in Trondheim, Norway in December. This session will include the presentation of case studies that highlight recent abiotic and biotic trends in Arctic freshwaters and will conclude with an open discussion of how we can best detect change using the monitoring data that exist, the gaps, and the examples from the case studies.


Contact: Joseph Culp, Environment Canada and Willem Goedkoop
, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 




terr_updateCBMP Terrestrial holds first implementation meeting; work on birds will include a global Arctic goose audit
Attendees of the Terrestrial Steering Group implementation meeting. Akureyri, Iceland. Photo: Bjarni Eiriksson

The Terrestrial Steering Group held their held their first implementation meeting in Akureyri, Iceland in February, 2014. During the meeting, the team developed a work plan which lays out an updated implementation structure for the Terrestrial Steering Group and identifies monitoring priorities and activities for the next several years.  Four expert networks have been formed to support delivery on the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. These are (1) birds; (2) vegetation; (3) invertebrates; and (4) mammals. The groups are broadening participation by engaging other relevant stakeholders and experts.




Photo: Fedor Yakovlev

An early project related to the birds network is the development of a global audit of Arctic goose populations. This initiative will develop a report detailing the status, trends and distribution of arctic goose populations. For each population the audit will describe the most recent abundance estimates with an assessment of their reliability together with, as far as available data permit, long (25-50 years) and short term (10 year) trends, trends in annual percentage production of young and annual survival and distributional changes on breeding and wintering areas. It is hoped that an integrated database will also be developed from this initiative. 


The Terrestrial Steering Group invites participation in a session at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress where we will be presenting an overview of the plan, learning about examples of coordinated monitoring and facilitating a discussion about approaches to improve coordination of Arctic terrestrial biodiversity monitoring.


Contact: Marlene Doyle, Environment Canada







usacoastHigh spatial and temporal resolution remote sensing of a rapidly eroding segment of arctic coastline


Coastal erosion. Photo: Ben Jones, USGS

Eroding permafrost coasts in the Arctic are increasingly susceptible to the combined effects of declining sea ice extent, more frequent and effective storms, sea level rise, and warming permafrost. However, several observation sites have yet to firmly link changes in decadal-scale erosion rates with changing environmental conditions in the Arctic. This partially results from the broad temporal gaps in suitable remote sensing observations necessary to address the relative role of potential drivers of change on an annual and seasonal basis. Recently, we have acquired high spatial and temporal resolution remote sensing imagery for a rapidly eroding segment of arctic coastline to better understand recent patterns of erosion in relation to potential environmental drivers that impact erosion over seasonal and annual time periods. The detailed coastal studies highlight the potential role of repeat, high-spatial and temporal resolution spaceborne optical and radar imagery for Arctic coastal erosion studies. These studies also show how detailed observations of arctic coasts, now possible using high-spatial resolution satellite imagery, provide an essential step forward in linking changes at the Arctic land-sea interface with those in the broader Arctic system.


Contact: Benjamin M. Jones, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, U.S.A.





dnacoastCanadian DNA-barcoding research sheds light on diversity of Arctic plankton; enhances monitoring


Sampled collected during monitoring. Photo: Rob Young

Canada has the longest marine coastline in the world, with a significant portion of these coastal waters contained in the Arctic region. Aside from some focal sites of intense research, little is known about the biodiversity of these waters. To address the poor understanding of our Arctic biodiversity, and to establish a baseline biodiversity survey, the Second Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN II) has sampled plankton at one proposed (Steensby Inlet NU) and three current (Iqaluit NU, Churchill MB, Deception Bay QC) Arctic ports. 


Rob Young in the field. Photo: University of Guelph

Zooplankton collections were taxonomically identified to the lowest possible level using standard morphological techniques and then DNA barcoded, a process whereby a short standardized DNA region is sequenced to enable rapid identification and discovery of provisional species. Nine phyla were represented in our collections, comprised of 51 morphologically identified species and 200 provisional species based on DNA barcode data using the Barcode Index Number algorithm (available through BOLD, the Barcode of Life Data Systems).  


These collections provide valuable information about the currently underestimated planktonic diversity, as well as the overall distribution of planktonic species in Canada's Arctic environment.  This DNA barcode reference library will enable future rapid monitoring of Arctic marine zooplankton communities via whole-community sequencing methods.


Contact: Rob Young, PhD candidate, Adamowicz Lab, Department of Integrative Biology
University of Guelph, Canada 




russiacoastMonitoring Coastal ecosystems and plants in Spitsbergen and along the White and Barents Seas


A group of students studying the salt marsh plants in the coastal zone near the Keret settlement from the White Sea (Karelia, Belomorsky district). Photo: Liudmila Sergienko

Since 2008, researchers at the Department of Botany and Plant Physiology at the Petrozavodsk State University, Karelia, Russian Federation, have conducted regular investigations on the Spitsbergen, White and Barents Sea coasts to study the biodiversity and adaptations of coastal plants and epilithic lichens.


They have found that various factors help determine the formation and development of coastal ecosystem vegetation, including: flooding; type of soil and subsoil; carbon content; long-term (palaeo-) vegetation dynamics; groundwater level and quality; dependence on permafrost; relative position within the intertidal zone; and the effectiveness of habitat use by animal species. The composition of plant communities is determined by factors such as: vegetation cover and species richness; coenopopulation structure; with seasonal and perennial vegetation dynamics playing a main role in the formation of salt marsh plant communities. The primary stage of succession occurs on soil without plants, which is thought to be the same across the circumpolar Arctic coasts.

Coastal zone near the Keret settlement from the White Sea -Triglochin maritima L. Photo: Liudmila Sergienko


The total number of family/genera/species on the studied coasts can be seen in the table below. A total of 113 species of epilithic lichens along four zones of the tidal belt have been identified. The study of anatomical and biochemical characteristics of two species - Lecanora polytropa and L. intricate - collected from the White Sea coast has revealed that the ratio of the algal layer to the general thickness of thallus was similar in all samples, at about 3:1. The higher content of usnic acid  (a specific lichen substance) in all samples testifies to the capacity of these species to adapt to high levels of illumination on the coastal rocks.



SpitsbergenBarents SeaWhite Sea (east)White Sea (west)


Contact: Prof. Liudmila Sergienko, Petrozavodsk State Univeristy, Russian Federation 




salmonMerging science and traditions helps improve the management of Atlantic salmon fisheries in the Barents region


Coastal bag net fishery and adult sampling in Northern Norway - Photo: Eero Neiemel�/ FGFRI

Scientists, managers and commercial fishermen from Northern Norway, Finland and north-west Russia, White Sea area combined their efforts in the Kolarctic salmon project (2011-2013), with the aim of providing a better knowledge-base for the countries salmon management. Within this joint and unique effort bio-specimen were sampled along the North-Norwegian coast and in Russian Barents and White Seas, generating the most comprehensive ecological and genetic datasets for Atlantic salmon. 

DNA analysis of samples - Photo: UTU-Kevo


In more detail, the project provided comprehensive information on the salmon rivers and populations in the area including genetic diversity which allowed for estimating the stock of origin for each sampled salmon from the sea. This in turn facilitated stock composition examination of mixed stock fishery catches as well as inference of spatial and temporal migratory patterns for the largest salmon stocks. Overall the results provide opportunities for developing knowledge-based adaptive management regimes for coastal salmon fisheries. In addition, the action facilitated a better understanding of the rich fishing traditions, coastal and Sami culture of the area and will hopefully contribute to preserve the highly important regional and local socio-economy with regards to salmon and salmon fisheries. 

Contact: Tiia Kalske, Office of the Finnmark County Governor 



loon2Partnering in Alaska on Yellow-billed Loons: Cooperation for Better Management and Outreach of a Global Species of Concern


Dr. Angela Matz (left), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chief of the Environmental Contaminants Program, and National Park Service Wildlife Biologist, Melanie Flamme, collaborate on Yellow-billed Loon contaminants research in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska, 2012. Photo: Tara Whitesell/National Parks Service
The Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) is a rare, circumpolar species of concern with a global population estimated at 16, 650-21,000. Approximately 25% of the worldwide population nests in Alaska, including coastal areas of Cape Krusenstern National Monument (CAKR) and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (BELA). Currently, USFWS is considering the species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.


Yellow-billed Loons in western Alaska are monitored by the National Park Service Arctic Network Inventory and Monitoring program (ARCN). ARCN conducts biennial aerial surveys to determine Yellow-billed Loon population occupancy, density and distribution in BELA and CAKR. With USFWS, we monitor contaminants burdens occurring in Yellow-billed Loon eggs and minnows from nesting lakes. Along with Wildlife Conservation Society, BLM and USFWS, and communities, we examine incidental harvest of loon entanglements in fishing nets. 


In partnership with USGS, ARCN study the species' genetic diversity across Alaska. Collaborating with Central Alaska Network and USGS, we use environmental DNA from nesting lakes to assess fish species diversity for Yellow-billed Loon habitat models. Also, with USGS, we utilize synthetic aperture radar (ifSAR) to remotely distinguish lakes that maintain some liquid water throughout winter as potential overwintering fish habitats vital to loons in these parklands.  


Contact: Melanie Flamme, Wildlife Biologist, National Park Service



Events & Initiatives
  • Arctic Biodiversity Congress

congressArctic Biodiversity Congress program released

A preliminary program for the upcoming Arctic Biodiversity Congress, in Trondheim, Norway, December 2-4, 2014 has been released.

Please note the following CBMP related sessions and their current scheduling:

December 2:


December 3


December 4

Please note that scheduling may change and updates to the program are being made as details emerge. Check back often.

Contact: Courtney Price, CAFF Secretariat

Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS)


abdsNew Arctic Biodiversity Data Service revealed at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress


A new and updated Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS) will be released at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, Norway December 2-4, 2014.


The ABDS will now boast of a GeoServer/GeoNetwork, open source solutions that allow for sharing of geographical information. This simple and enhanced capacity to store, reference and access data will make georeferenced data more available on the ABDS. It will increase the interoperability of the ABDS and allow for it to interact more seamlessly with other data initiatives as well as strengthen compliance to data and metadata standards.


In addition, the ABDS will reveal a new graphical interface to allow users to easily and smoothly locate and obtain data, as well as highlight and profile data providers such as the CBMP Expert Groups.


The release will also include all existing CAFF data holdings and new datasets from recent projects, including the Land Cover Change Index being developed by CAFF. Once the structure is in place regular data updates can be expected henceforth.

The ABDS will be included in a session at the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service:

Contact: Kari Fannar Larusson, CAFF Secretariat