Chemicals in arctic food chains: accumulation and potential population effects

Renske Hoondert, Rascha Nuijten, funded by NWO (Netherlands Polar Programme)

The project modelled the whole chain from POP emissions in temperate zone, accumulation and subsequent effects in the Arctic as intended. The monitoring data collected and the models developed show that concentrations of legacy pollutants have decreased over the last decades. Even more, the similarity between monitoring and modelling demonstrates that future concentrations of these compound can be reasonably well predicted by our models, facilitating policy-making in target-setting. Also accumulation of these substances in Arctic food chains is similar as in temperate zones, allowing the same models to be in both areas. Yet, as pelagic/arctic foodchains might be longer than estuarine/temperate foodchains modelled so far, higher levels in top-predators may be achieved. Statistical analysis suggested that populations density of polar bears was more affected by POPs than by classical pressures as climate change and hunting. Modelling partly underpinned these correlations.