Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020.


Copyright 2020 Sydney Hansen


As the Arctic is encountering many environmental changes, a multi-species meta-analysis was conducted from peer-reviewed scientific data gathered from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) library’s bibliographic databases to determine 1) the main polar warming impacts on species of the Arctic food web such as polar bears, ringed seals, Arctic cod, copepods, and primary producers, 2) determine climatic impacts by looking at population sizes and migratory patterns over several years, and 3) discover impacts of a top-down cascade and look into conservation efforts. In the Arctic, species within its’ ecosystem are experiencing more dramatic impacts from climatic warming because of the albedo positive feedback loop the cryosphere regions are experiencing. The purpose of this analysis was to help understand the impact that climate change can have on the different parts of the Arctic ecosystem and to further understand how all the species work in an ecosystem, potentially leading to different conservation efforts better suited for species survival. The data was narrowed down to research founded in Hudson Bay, Canada, where the subpopulation of polar bears was declining in abundance. Ringed seals, polar cod, benthic organisms, and algae were all experiencing negative effects of climatic change separately, nothing linking their populations to one another. Overall, the research indicates that bottom-up and top-down trophic cascades can be assumed but each species down or up the food chain is being negatively impacted by their own global warming challenge. It is important to maintain a balance in the Arctic food web to maintain a healthy ecosystem, planning for the future and making efforts to advocate biodiversity will be the best custom in polar maintenance and increasing species survival.