At the White Sea…

COOPENOR is a joint Norwegian Russian project where one of main aims is to compare the biology of bivalves across different regions of the Arctic. At the same time as we are doing our monthly sampling along the Norwegian coast, just outside Tromsø, Dr Igor Bakhmet, our Russian co-leader is at the White Biological station of the Zoological Institute of RAS (Russia) sampling tissues in parallel. Here he explains his work and focus from his field site in the White Sea:
Fig 1 The location
According to the aims of our project the natural populations of blue mussels (coastal) and scallops (shallow shelf areas) are studied at the White Sea Biological Station.


Blue mussels and scallops are sampled monthly, except in May and June, when the interval of sampling is increased to twice a month when they develop gonads and prepare for spawning.
The blue mussels are collected from the middle littoral zone and also from artificial substrates while the scallops are found at a depth of ca. 10-15 m on a natural bed.
The environmental conditions are continuously recorded using underwater temperature and light (illumination) loggers.
Igor explains that the investigation may be divided in different aspects including ecological and morphological, physiological, biochemical, genetic. Surely, all these aspects are connected with each other.
To estimate the ecological and morphological parameters of the animals, the bivalves are measured according to the following indices: length, weight, height, volume, soft tissue and shell weight; weight of gills, mantle and hepatopancreas (gut); stages of gonad development. Based upon  these parameters, condition indices of the mollusks may be determined according to Lundebye et al. (1997).
During sampling, pictures of the mussels’ mantle are taken to record their colour, as this may be a reliable indicator of the level of carotenoids and anti-oxidants (Petes et al. 2008).
In addition, the growth patterns of the blue mussels will be estimated with help of calcein-marked individuals (Ambrose et al. 2012).
The biochemical part of our investigation is the estimation of lipid composition of the animals over the year, as well as levels of antioxidants. For the physiological part of our project is included the registration of heart activity in animals in situ and evaluation of oxygen consumption.
heart rate fig
All experiments will be carried out during the whole year. We have started yet these works from the March in spite of rather severe conditions of the White Sea at the winter. 
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