Interactive effects of multiple stressors on blue mussel metabolic rates and thermal tolerance in a warming arctic

The Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average. Consequently, temperate ‘warmer-water’ species are expanding their distribution ranges into the Arctic, and the region is expected to experience high extinction rates of endemic species. However, the relative response of Arctic and temperate species to warming remains poorly understood. In this project, you will help provide valuable insight into the physiological effect of climate change on native and invasive species using blue mussels from Greenland as model organisms.

The project is a collaboration between Aarhus University and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua in Lyngby) and can be adjusted to a 30 or 60 ECTS project, depending on your preference. The mussels have been collected from Greenland in Summer 2022 and are thus available for the experimental laboratory part of the project (acclimation of mussels to different conditions and measurements of metabolic rate), which will be conducted at DTU Aqua under the supervision of Tommy Norin. You will be provided office space at either Aarhus University or DTU Aqua, depending on your preference and residence.

The project’s overall aim is to understand the intraspecific sensitivity to climate change of two blue mussel species inhabiting the same area in North Greenland. The working hypothesis is that the southern species will outcompeting its northern native congener as water temperatures increases and freshwater is released from melting glaciers.

To understand these changes, you will study metabolic rate – a key physiological trait that represents the cost of living – of two blue mussel species under various temperature and salinity conditions. Metabolic rates will be quantified from measurements of oxygen uptake using modern optical oxygen sensors and a technique called respirometry.

For more information please contact:

Anna Neuheimer (Associate Professor, AU,
Jakob Thyrring (Postdoc, AU,
Tommy Norin (Senior Researcher, DTU Aqua,