New ARCTOS PhD: Emmelie Åström

On Friday, April 20th, Emmelie Åström successfully defended her PhD project at UiT, entitled:

‘Benthic communities at high-Arctic cold seeps: Faunal response to methane seepage in Svalbard’.

The main aim of Emmelie’s research has been to describe cold seep communities and habitats on the shelf of western Svalbard and in the Barents Sea.

The key findings of her thesis are:

  1. Cold seeps have a strong, localized effect over small spatial scales, supporting dense communities of small chemosymbiotic worms that play a fundamental role in structuring the seabed animal community.
  2. Cold seeps are identified as focal areas for the biosphere, providing heterogeneous substrates and additional food resources independent of photosynthetic sources from the surface ocean, resulting in animal aggregations at these habitats.
  3. Methane-derived carbon is incorporated into the food web of the Barents Sea ecosystem.
  4. The discovery of two new species of methane-associated bivalves at Svalbard cold seeps.

Emmelie’s thesis consists of three published articles and one manuscript:

  • Article I: Åström EKL, Carroll ML, Ambrose WG, and Carroll J (2016). Arctic cold seeps in marine methane hydrate environments: impacts on shelf macrobenthic community structure offshore Svalbard. Marine Ecology Progress Series 552: 1-18,
  • Article II: Åström EKL, Carroll ML, Ambrose WG, Sen A, Silyakova A, and Carroll J (2017). Methane cold seeps as biological oases in the high-Arctic deep sea. Limnology and Oceanography 1-23,
  • Article III: Åström Hammenstig EKL, Carroll ML, Sen A, Niemann H, Ambrose WG, Lehman FM, and Carroll J (Manuscript). Trophic interactions and community structure at Barents Sea cold seeps.
  • Article IV: Åström EKL, Oliver PG, and Carroll ML (2017). A new genus of two new species of Thyasiridae associated with methane seeps off Svalbard, Arctic Ocean. Marine Biology Research 13(4): 402-416,

Emmelie’s supervisors have been Professor JoLynn Carroll (Akvaplan-niva, Norway), Dr. Michael Carroll (Akvaplan-niva, Norway), and Professor William G. Ambrose (Bates College, USA). Her opponents for the defense were Professor Cindy Lee Van Dover (Nicholas School of the Environment Duke University, USA) and Director Michael Klages (University of Gothenberg, Sweden).

We congratulate Emmelie on her successful defense and wish her all the best with her new post-doc position connected to the Arven etter Nansen project, where she will be based at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT, and focus on the impact of chemosynthetic carbon sources in marine food webs at Arctic cold seeps.