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Marine Birds as Indicators of Arctic Marine Ecosystem Health: Linking the Northern Ecosystem Initiative to Long-Term Studies

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Marine birds are sensitive indicators of the condition of marine ecosystems in the Arctic, partly because they feed at the top of the arctic food chain. The Northern Ecosystem Initiative (NEI) recently supported four separate studies that investigated aspects of Arctic marine bird science which simultaneously addressed goals of the NEI to better understand northern ecosystems and their response to environmental stressors. The projects used both scientific and traditional knowledge to examine the relationship between sea-ice, contaminants, and the ecology of marine birds, and to transfer environmental knowledge to students. Results from these investigations confirm that changes are occurring in Arctic environments, and that these are captured through marine bird research. Collectively these studies provided new data that supported NEI objectives of monitoring the health of the Arctic ecosystem, and contributed to Canada's international obligations for Arctic science.

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