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‘Combined effects of multiple environmental stressors on Arctic seabirds’

PI: J. Fort - Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs, La Rochelle)



ARCTIC-STRESSORS is a research project funded by the French National Agency for Research (ANR JCJC) from 2021 to 2025.


The ARCTIC-STRESSORS project proposes to use a multidisciplinary approach to investigate at the pan-Arctic scale the combined effects of multiple environmental stressors (pollution, sea-ice loss and warming temperatures) on Arctic seabirds and ultimately on Arctic marine ecosystems. More specifically, this project will aim to:


1) Investigate the importance of sea ice for Arctic seabirds and how melting sea ice might enhance bird exposure to mercury (Hg), and how these two combined environmental stressors could affect bird behavior and fitness.


2) Study the impacts of Hg on seabird thermoregulatory capacities and how the combined temperature increase and Hg contamination will affect bird energetic niches and ultimately their distribution through the Arctic. 


‘Responses of Arctic marine birds to environmental constraints in the context of climate change’

co-PIs: D. Grémillet (CEBC, Chizé) & J. Fort (LIENSs, La Rochelle)



ADACLIM is a long-term monitoring research program funded by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) since 2005. Its general objective is to provide a better understanding of the impacts of environmental changes  on Arctic seabirds. To this end, it focuses on little auks (Alle alle) from East Greenland. Little auks are the most numerous seabird species in the North Atlantic Arctic (40-80 million individuals) and powerful ecological indicators of regional food webs.


More specifically, within the 2012-2016 period, ADACLIM will study the multi-year impact of ocean warming on (1) the foraging behaviour and fitness (reproductive performance and adult survival) of little auks breeding along the Greenland Sea, (2) their migratory strategies during the winter phase in the Atlantic. Further, it will use an experimental approach to test the hypothesis that little auks are capable of filter-feeding, a functional trait which should greatly help them cope with climate-induced shifts in prey resources. Finally, ADACLIM will evaluate levels of oil-associated pollutants in little auks during the last 25 years, as well as across areas of contrasting anthropogenic influence within their North Atlantic summer and winter distribution range.


In addition, ADACLIM involves close collaborations with Nowegian (Norwegian Polar Institute and The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research), Polish (University of Gdánsk), Danish (Aarhus University) and Russian (Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute) colleagues working on other little auk colonies.




‘Behavioural ecotoxicology meets climate change: Interactive effects of mercury pollution and climate change on behaviour, physiology and fitness in a keystone arctic seabird’

co-PI: Andrea Grunst and J. Fort (LIENSs, La Rochelle)



BehavToxArc is a research project funded by the European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions to A. Grunst) from 2020 to 2022.

BehavToxArc will investigate the effects of contaminants on animal ecophysiology and behaviour, alone or in interactions with climate change, using a keystone arctic seabird, the little auk (Alle alle). Based on data collection from two colonies (East Greenland and Svalbard) that are experiencing different environmental conditions and climate change impacts, the project will aim to:

1) Use ultralight GPSs and accelerometers devices to collect unique behavioural data, which will be linked to state-of-the-art Hg measurements, and complemented by a long-term dataset (from accelerometers since 2009) in order to study the effects of Hg on the behaviour and ecophysiology of little auks.

2) Explore whether disruption of behaviour or stress physiology by Hg might limit adjustments to environmental change.

3) Investigate cross-generational effects of Hg exposure in the context of climate change, focusing on telomeres. 



‘Bioenergetic Effects of Anthropogenic Contaminants and Climate Change on a Keystone Arctic Seabird’

co-PI: Melissa Grunst and J. Fort (LIENSs, La Rochelle)



BioenergArc is a research project funded by the European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions to M. Grunst) from 2021 to 2023.

BioenergArc will investigate the combined effects of climate change and contaminant exposure on seabird bioenergetics and thermoregulation, effects which are especially pronounced in the high Arctic. To this end, it will focus on a little auk (Alle alle) populations in East Greenland and will aim to:

1) Elucidate whether exposure to a suite of contaminants (methylmercury, organochlorines, perfluoroalkyls) affects resting metabolic rate and thermoregulatory capacity in a fashion that could undermine the capacity to cope with climate change

2) Examine whether contaminant exposure affects field metabolic rate, activity patterns and responses to increased workloads

3) Investigate whether variation in thermoregulatory capacity and energy budgeting affects spatial habitat use and fitness



‘Disease ecology in a modified world: Linking combined environmental stressors, population dynamics and movement ecology to understand the circulation of infectious agents’

PI: K. McCoy (MIVEGEC, Montpellier)

Scientific coordinator for partner LIENSs


EcoDIS is a research project funded by the French National Agency for Research (ANR PRC) from 2021 to 2025.

Environmental pollutants and pathogens can have negative impacts on wildlife health and population dynamics. While their effects are often sub-lethal or weak individually, little is known about their cumulative and interactive effects when experienced together. EcoDIS will address this issue via an interdisciplinary approach that combines demographic monitoring, ecotoxicology, population genetics, epidemiology, and movement ecology, to study how levels of pollutants (metallic trace elements & plastics) and parasites in the Yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) alter their reproductive success, population dynamics and movement patterns, and subsequently modify the circulation of infectious agents at different spatial scales. By using a widespread wildlife species frequently found in urban areas, results will be of both significant fundamental (i.e., effects of environmental stressors on wildlife population dynamics) and applied interest (i.e., pathogen circulation by wildlife and human exposure risk).


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