Northern Squid Habitat Identified

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 14 (UPI) — A Canadian scientist says she has documented the habitat of the elusive northern squid — a key species in the arctic marine food web.

University of Manitoba doctoral candidate Kathleen Gardiner, co-author of the study, said the research involves the northern squid Gonatus fabricu, which along with octopi and bobtail squid, plays an important role as prey for such arctic species as narwhal, beluga, seals, cod and halibut.

Identifying the feeding and spawning grounds of squid is of particular importance right now, Gardiner said, because of the changing climate. The Arctic Ocean is warming and the extent of sea ice is shrinking, exposing more water to light and heat. There are already indications that new species of squid are moving north.

“No one knows if populations are up or down,” Gardiner said. “We don’t know what abundance levels are in the Canadian arctic and much of the Arctic Ocean.”

She said she hopes her work is the first step toward development of habitat management policies. “Once we isolate the baseline data and find hot spots, breeding grounds and feeding grounds, we can protect these areas.”

The study is reported in the early online edition of the journal Polar Research,

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