Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 401–412 | Cite as

Is the poleward expansion by Atlantic cod and haddock threatening native polar cod, Boreogadus saida?

  • Paul E. Renaud
  • Jørgen Berge
  • Øystein Varpe
  • Ole Jørgen Lønne
  • Jasmine Nahrgang
  • Camilla Ottesen
  • Ingeborg Hallanger
Original Paper


During a recent period of increased influx of warm Atlantic water to the western coast of Svalbard, we have observed a northward expansion of boreal Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) into areas dominated by the native polar cod (Boreogadus saida). To determine the potential impact of new ecological interactions, we studied the diet of co-occurring juvenile gadoids in fjords, open water, and sea ice around Svalbard. We also reviewed the available literature on polar cod feeding in different habitats across the Arctic to determine whether region, habitat, or fish size may influence diet. Feeding by polar cod in the pelagic zone was size dependent, with small fish primarily consuming Calanus spp. and smaller copepods, with an increasing ration of Themisto spp. at larger sizes. In benthic habitats, diets were more varied and included considerably more unidentified material and sediment. Less than 40% dietary overlap was detected among the three species when they were found together. Stable isotope analyses indicated these patterns were representative of longer-term assimilation. The low interspecific dietary overlap suggests little direct competition. Future increases in abundance and the high predation potential of the boreal taxa, however, may impact the persistence of polar cod on some Arctic shelves.


Arctic Diet overlap Gadus morhua Habitat selection Interspecific competition Melanogrammus aeglefinus Niche segregation Sea ice Svalbard 



We are grateful for the assistance of the officers and crew of the R/V Jan Mayen, and students from UNIS AB320 cruises in 2006 and 2008. Special thanks to B. Gulliksen, F. Broms, C. Emblow, B. Johnson, H. Nygård, B. Seim, and J. Søreide. Comments from P. Dalpadado, B. Norcross, D. Schiedek, and an anonymous reviewer improved the manuscript. This is a contribution of the “Arctic Tipping Points” project funded under the EU 7th Framework Program. Additional support has been provided by Akvaplan-niva, UNIS, Conoco Phillips, and Statoil.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul E. Renaud
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jørgen Berge
    • 2
    • 1
  • Øystein Varpe
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ole Jørgen Lønne
    • 2
  • Jasmine Nahrgang
    • 1
  • Camilla Ottesen
    • 4
  • Ingeborg Hallanger
    • 3
  1. 1.Akvaplan-nivaFram Centre on Climate and the EnvironmentTromsøNorway
  2. 2.University Centre in SvalbardLongyearbyenNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Polar InstituteFram Centre on Climate and the EnvironmentTromsøNorway
  4. 4.Department of Arctic and Marine BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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