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Arctic cod, Borealization, Circumpolar, Climate change, Polar cod, Risks




Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) is the most abundant forage fish in the Arctic Ocean. Here we review Arctic cod habitats, distribution, ecology, and physiology to assess how climate change and other anthropogenic stressors are affecting this key species. This review identifies vulnerabilities for different life stages across the entire distribution range of Arctic cod. We explore the impact of environmental (abiotic and biotic) and anthropogenic stressors on Arctic cod with a regional perspective in a scenario up to the year 2050 and identify knowledge gaps constraining predictions. Epipelagic eggs and larvae are more vulnerable to climate change and stressors than adults. Increased water temperatures, sea-ice decline, altered freshwater input, acidification, changing prey field, increased interspecific competition, new predators, and pollution are the principal stressors that will affect Arctic cod populations. Detrimental effects are likely to be greater in regions characterized by the advection of warmer Atlantic and Pacific waters. In contrast, Arctic cod may benefit from ocean warming in colder areas of the High Arctic. The risk from fisheries is moderate and primarily limited to bycatch. Overall, a decrease in suitable habitat and an associated decline in total Arctic cod biomass are predicted. In most Arctic seas, the relative abundance of Arctic cod within the fish community will likely fluctuate in accordance with cold and warm periods. A reduced abundance of Arctic cod will negatively affect the abundance, distribution, and physiological condition of certain predators, whereas some predators will successfully adapt to a more boreal diet. Regional management measures that recognize the critical role of Arctic cod are required to ensure that increased anthropogenic activities do not exacerbate the impacts of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems. Ultimately, the mitigation of habitat loss for Arctic cod will only be achieved through a global reduction in carbon emissions.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.