Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid's research while affiliated with Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and other places

Publications (73)

Article
The monitoring of legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in blubber of key sentinel marine mammal species has been conducted using established techniques for decades. Although these methods for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and organochlorine (OC) pesticide determination provide accurate and reproducible results, they possess some drawbacks i...
Article
Two major oceanographic changes have recently propagated through several trophic levels in coastal areas of Southeast Greenland (SEG). Firstly, the amount of drift-ice exported from the Fram Strait and transported with the East Greenland Current (EGC) has decreased significantly over the past two decades, and a main tipping element (summer sea ice)...
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Accurate diet estimates are necessary to assess trophic interactions and food web dynamics in ecosystems, particularly for apex predators like cetaceans, which can regulate entire food webs. Quantitative fatty acid analysis (QFASA) has been used to estimate the diets of marine predators in the last decade but has yet to be implemented on free-rangi...
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Aim Identify hotspots and areas of high species richness for Arctic marine mammals. Location Circumpolar Arctic. Methods A total of 2115 biologging devices were deployed on marine mammals from 13 species in the Arctic from 2005 to 2019. Getis‐Ord Gi* hotspots were calculated based on the number of individuals in grid cells for each species and fo...
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The development of migratory strategies that enable juveniles to survive to sexual maturity is critical for species that exploit seasonal niches. For animals that forage via breath-hold diving, this requires a combination of both physiological and foraging skill development. Here, we assess how migratory and dive behaviour develop over the first ye...
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There has been a considerable number of reports on Hg concentrations in Arctic mammals since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to mercury (Hg) in Arctic biota in 2010 and 2018. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of health risk associated with Hg conce...
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The harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) is the most widely distributed pinniped, occupying a wide variety of habitats and climatic zones across the Northern Hemisphere. Intriguingly, the harbour seal is also one of the most philopatric seals, raising questions as to how it colonised virtually the whole of the Northern Hemisphere. To shed light on the ori...
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The ringed seal is a small phocid seal that has a northern circumpolar distribution. It has long been recognized that body size is variable in ringed seals, and it has been suggested that ecotypes that differ in size exist. This study explores patterns of body size (length and girth) and age-at-maturity across most of the Arctic subspecies’ range u...
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To support sustainable management of apex predator populations, it is important to estimate population size and understand the drivers of population trends to anticipate the consequences of human decisions. Robust population models are needed, which must be based on realistic biological principles and validated with the best available data. A team...
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Determining the proportion of males and females in zooarchaeological assemblages can be used to reconstruct the diversity and severity of past anthropogenic impacts on animal populations, and can also provide valuable biological insights into past animal life-histories, behaviour and demography, including the effects of environmental change. Howeve...
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Environmental change and increasing levels of human activity are threats to marine mammals in the Arctic. Identifying marine mammal hotspots and areas of high species richness are essential to help guide management and conservation efforts. Herein, space use based on biotelemetric tracking devices deployed on 13 species (ringed seal Pusa hispida ,...
Preprint
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After three years of cold conditions, warm water has returned to Ilulissat Icefjord, home to Jakobshavn Isbrae—Greenland’s largest outlet glacier. Jakobshavn has slowed and thickened since 2016, when waters near the glacier cooled from 3 °C to 1.5 °C. Fjord temperatures remained cold through at least the end of 2019, but in March 2020, temperatures...
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Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) were formerly widely distributed in Greenland, but in most areas, they have now become rare or extinct. In this study, we deployed 15 satellite-linked data-recorders on 12 individual harbor seals captured near the southern tip of Greenland. The tagging site, a small archipelago, turned out to be their main haul-out and...
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There is increasing evidence that the ~20 routinely monitored per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) account for only a fraction of extractable organofluorine (EOF) occurring in the environment. To assess whether PFAS exposure is being underestimated in marine mammals from the Northern Hemisphere, we performed a fluorine mass balance on liver...
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Using social media, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources collected data in 2019, on the occurrence of pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha). Eighty‐four pink salmon were reported from 22 locations across Greenland. This comprised 76 specimens from 2019 and eight specimens from 2013–2018. Of these, twelve were caught in freshwater and a singl...
Chapter
This article describes the relationship between sea ice and marine mammals around Greenland, the possible effects of climate change and the importance of subsistence hunting in modern Greenland. We also summarize the biology, conservation status and utilization of the polar bear, walrus, seal and whale species of Greenland.
Preprint
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Determining the male and female representation in zooarchaeological material from hunted animal species is essential, to fully investigate the effects and means of prehistoric hunting practices, and may further provide valuable biological information on past animal life-history, behaviour and demography. However, the fragmented nature of the zooarc...
Preprint
There is increasing evidence that the ~20 routinely monitored per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) account for only a fraction of extractable organofluorine (EOF) occurring in the environment. To assess whether PFAS exposure is being underestimated in marine mammals from the Northern Hemisphere, we performed a fluorine mass balance on liver...
Article
Full-text available
Since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to organohalogen compounds (OHCs) in Arctic biota, there has been a considerable number of new Arctic effect studies. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of OHC, and also include mercury, exposure and/or associat...
Article
We quantified blubber concentrations of vitamins A (retinol) and E (α-tocopherol) and evaluated associations with persistent organic pollutants (ΣPOPs) in 14 highly-contaminated killer whales (Orcinus orca) sampled in Greenland from 2012 to 2014. We considered the influence of blubber depth, sex/age class and diet (based on biomass % of major fatty...
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Aim Climate change is altering marine ecosystems worldwide and is most pronounced in the Arctic. Economic development is increasing leading to more disturbances and pressures on Arctic wildlife. Identifying areas that support higher levels of predator abundance and biodiversity is important for the implementation of targeted conservation measures a...
Article
PCB—still a problem Until they were recognized as highly toxic and carcinogenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were once used widely. Their production was banned in the United States in 1978, though they are still produced globally and persist in the environment. Persistent organic compounds, like PCBs, magnify across trophic levels, and thus ap...
Article
An increasing number of North Atlantic killer whales Orcinus orca have recently been observed in sub-Arctic and Arctic seas. Within these regions, marine mammal consumption appears frequent relative to the more fish-based diet within traditional habitats. To provide insight into feeding habits of Northward range-expanding killer whales, full-depth...
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Zoonotic infections transmitted from terrestrial and marine mammals to humans in European Arctic are of unknown significance, despite considerable potential for transmission due to local hunt and a rapidly changing environment. As an example, infection with Brucella bacteria may have significant impact on human health due to consumption of raw meat...
Presentation
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Jakobshavn Isbrae, the largest outlet glacier in Greenland, has sped up during the last decades following a major, ocean warm-water intrusion event, and has lost the bulk of its ice shelf. It is unknown whether absent an ice shelf, the ocean's role in modulating outlet glacier behavior still exists. The warming climate may cause surface melting wat...
Article
Zoonotic infections transmitted from marine mammals to humans in the Baltic and European Arctic are of unknown significance, despite given considerable potential for transmission due to local hunt. Here we present results of an initial screening for Brucella spp. in Arctic and Baltic seal species. Baltic ringed seals (Pusa hispida, n = 12) sampled...
Article
Sightings of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Greenland have increased in recent years, coincident with sea ice loss. These killer whales are likely from fish-feeding North Atlantic populations, but may have access to marine mammal prey in Greenlandic waters, which could lead to increased exposures to biomagnifying contaminants. Most studies on poly...
Technical Report
This report describes the results of the second part of the survey of breeding colonial seabirds and marine mammals in Southeast Greenland. The survey covered the coasts between Scoresby Sound and Tasiilaq. Generally, the assembly of breeding seabirds was poor, just as in the area surveyed during the first part of the project in 2014. Again in 2016...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report describes the results of the second part of the survey of breeding colonial seabirds and marine mammals in Southeast Greenland. The survey covered the coasts between Scoresby Sound and Tasiilaq. Generally, the assembly of breeding seabirds was poor, just as in the area surveyed during the first part of the project in 2014. Again in 2016...
Article
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Environmental variation influences resource distribution, thereby affecting animal movement and their foraging decisions. Climate change is altering environmental processes worldwide, but particularly in the Arctic where changes in the phenology of sea ice has been redistributing resources across space and time. How polar marine predators such as r...
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The importance of the North Water polynya in Smith Sound as an overwintering area for marine mammals has been questioned. One way to address the issue is to assess the abundance of selected marine mammals that are present during winter in the North Water. Visual aerial surveys involving double observer platforms were conducted over the eastern part...
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Jakobshavn Glacier, west Greenland, has responded to temperature changes in Ilulissat Icefjord, into which it terminates. This study collected hydrographic observations inside Ilulissat Icefjord and from adjacent Disko Bay between 2001 and 2014. The warmest deep Disko Bay waters were blocked by the entrance sill and did not reach Jakobshavn Glacier...
Article
Seasonal time series of sea-ice area or extent in several regions along the east coast of Canada were compiled from several sources for the period 1901 to 2013 and compared with an index of ice extent off southwest Greenland, iceberg season length south of 48°N, air temperature, and other climate indices. Trends in winter ice area and iceberg seaso...
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The distribution of terrestrial surface runoff to Ilulissat Icefjord, West Greenland, is simulated for the period 2009–2013 to better emphasize the spatio-temporal variability in freshwater flux and the link between runoff spikes and observed hydrographic conditions at the Greenland Ice Sheet tidewater glacier margins. Runoff model simulations were...
Technical Report
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This report describes the results of a survey for colonial seabirds and seals along the almost unexplored coasts of Southeast Greenland. In July 2014 the region between Nanortalik and Tasiilaq was covered and it is the plan to cover the region further north to Ittoqqortoormiit in 2015. Very few colonial seabirds were found breeding in 2014, breedin...
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Many pinniped species perform a specific dive type, referred to as a 'drift dive', where they drift passively through the water column. This dive type has been suggested to function as a resting/sleeping or food processing dive, and can be used as an indication of feeding success by calculating the daily change in vertical drift rates over time, wh...
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Information and statistics including trade statistics on catches of white whales or belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in West Greenland since 1862 are presented. The period before 1952 was dominated by large catches south of 66o N that peaked with 1,380 reported kills in 1922. Catch levels in the past five decades are evaluated on the basis of offici...
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With the exception of relatively brief periods when they reproduce and moult, hooded seals, Cystophora cristata, spend most of the year in the open ocean where they undergo feeding migrations to either recover or prepare for the next fasting period. Valuable insights into habitat use and diving behaviour during these periods have been obtained by a...
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The little auk (Alle alle) is one of the most numerous seabirds in the world, but their winter prey selection has never been thoroughly studied. In the present study, we analyzed the proventricular contents of 205 little auks caught in coastal areas off southwest Greenland during December–February and off Newfoundland in March. Large Calanoid copep...
Article
Niche variation owing to individual differences in ecology has been hypothesized to be an early stage of sympatric speciation. Yet to date, no study has tracked niche width over more than a few generations. In this study, we show the presence of isotopic niche variation over millennial timescales and investigate the evolutionary outcomes. Isotopic...
Article
Rapid climate changes are occurring in the Arctic, with substantial repercussions for arctic ecosystems. It is challenging to assess ecosystem changes in remote polar environments, but one successful approach has entailed monitoring the diets of upper trophic level consumers. Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) and fatty acid carbon...
Article
Interaction of warm, Atlantic‐origin water (AW) and colder, polar origin water (PW) advecting southward in the East Greenland Current (EGC) influences the heat content of water entering Greenland's outlet glacial fjords. Here we use depth and temperature data derived from deep‐diving seals to map out water mass variability across the continental sh...
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Andersen, J. M., Wiersma, Y. F., Stenson, G. B., Hammill, M. O., Rosing-Asvid, A., and Skern-Maurizen, M. 2013. Habitat selection by hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 70:173–185. We examined annual habitat use for 65 hooded seals (32 adult females, 17 adult males, and 16 juveniles)...
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Recent studies have shown that the complementary analysis of mercury (Hg) concentrations and stable isotopic ratios of nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) can be useful for investigating the trophic influence on the Hg exposure and accumulation in marine top predators. In this study, we propose to evaluate the interspecies variability of Hg concentra...
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Frie, A. K., Fagerheim, K-A., Hammill, M. O., Kapel, F. O., Lockyer, C., Stenson, G. B., Rosing-Asvid, A., and Svetochev, V. 2011. Error patterns in age estimation of harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus): results from a transatlantic, image-based, blind-reading experiment using known-age teeth. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 68: 1942–1953. Blin...
Article
Unusually high polar bear (Ursus maritimus Phipps, 1774) predation on ringed seal (Pusa hispida (Schreber, 1775)) pups and increased survival of polar bear cubs during mild springs is documented in published articles. Strong predation on newborn ringed seal pups in early spring, however, is likely to lower the overall energy intake of polar bears i...
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It is crucial to examine the genetic diversity and structure of small, isolated populations, especially those at the edge of their distribution range, because they are vulnerable to stochastic processes if genetic diversity is low and the isolation level is high, and because such populations provide insight into the consequences of population decli...
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The presence of grey seals has never before been confirmed in Greenland, but on 30 August 2009 a grey seal was photographed near shore in Southeast Greenland (59˚53′ N, 43˚28′ W). The seal was observed within a small group of islands that hosts a harbour seal colony. The following day, a seal that might be a young grey seal was photographed at the...
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Hedeholm, R., Grønkjær, P., Rosing-Asvid, A., and Rysgaard, S. 2010. Variation in size and growth of West Greenland capelin (Mallotus villosus) along latitudinal gradients. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67: 1128–1137. Capelin (Mallotus villosus) is the dominant pelagic species in the West Greenland ecosystem. Historical data are re-examined and...
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Introduction to Volume 8: Harbour seals in the North Atlantic and the Baltic
Article
The recent rapid increase in mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet is primarily attributed to an acceleration of outlet glaciers. One possible cause of this acceleration is increased melting at the ice-ocean interface, driven by the synchronous warming of subtropical waters offshore of Greenland. However, because of the lack of observations from G...
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Movement patterns of hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) in the Northwest Atlantic in the pe-riod following moulting and prior to breeding are not well known. Here, we describe in detail the movement patterns of 21 seals for this period based on information gathered from satellite linked time depth recorders (SLTDRs). This study provides important b...
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An aerial line transect and cue counting survey of large whales in West Greenland was conducted in August and September 2005. The survey covered the area between Cape Farewell and Disko Island on the West Greenland coast out to the 200m depth contour. The surveyed area covered 163,574km 2 and a total of 246 sightings of 9 cetacean species were obta...
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We estimated demographic parameters and current harvest risks for a population of polar bears (Ursus maritimus Phipps) inhabiting northern Smith Sound and Kane Basin, Canada and Greenland. Our demographic analysis included a detailed assessment of age- and sex-specific survival and recruitment from 141 marked polar bears, using information containe...
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We estimated demographic parameters and harvest risks for a population of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) inhabiting Baffin Bay, Canada and Greenland, from 1974 to 1997. Our demographic analysis included a detailed assessment of age- and sex-specific survival and recruitment from 1221 marked polar bears, which used information contained within the st...