The international team of researchers headed by SPbU Prof Andrei Granovich studies the Arctic biocoenosis near the Barents Sea.

The Arctic states are implementing a small number of marine oil and gas projects on the continental shelf. Yet the number of oil and gas reserves that are developed is increasing, so is our concern about how humans influence vulnerable Arctic’s communities.

Since 2014, SPbU scientists in biology, geo-chemists from VNIIOkeangeologia, and Akvaplan-niva (APN), Norway, have been developing approaches to monitor the environment in the Arctic. A step forward in this direction is an interdisciplinary project “Ecological monitoring of the Arctic’s coastal ecosystems: Testing the sensitivity to the oil contamination (Arctic Ecosens)” that is part of the grant provided by RFBR and Research Council of Norway.

The project primarily focuses on what species inhabit the Arctic communities and what geo-chemical background is typical to the Arctic. Moreover, to reveal how it is interrelated.

SPbU Professor, Director of the Project Andrei Granovich

“We are planning to identify what components and how contaminate the Arctic.  Some time ago, we could use archives. Today however we have to create new databases and synchronize the work of various experts”, — said the Director of the Project, SPbU Prof Andrei Granovich.

The first stage of the three-year project selects model species of various taxonomic groups of the communities of the Arctic’ coastal areas. Among them are unicellular and multicellular organisms, brown algae and higher plants. The scientists will study biocoenosis in the contaminated areas (the Kola Bay) and in those areas where the human impact is minimal. VNIIOkeangeologia will make a passport of geological environments of the areas under study that will provide information about what organic compounds are typical to the area and how they originated, primarily poly aromatic hydrocarbons.

The SPbU Research Park will carry out massive proteomic and metabolomics research. “Some time ago we could only analyse indirect indicators to identify contamination, for example, species composition and population characteristics of the aquatic organisms. Today the SPbU Resource Centre “Development of Molecular and Cellular Technologies” offers opportunities to assess proteins and metabolites in the organisms. It is the first time in the history when we can study the organisms in the natural habitats”, — said Prof Granovich.

The results gained by the biologists and geochemists will help us assess the sensitivity of the coastal areas to contamination, improve ecological monitoring, and make predictive modelling more precise.