Pan-Arctic plankton community structure and its global connectivity

Federico M. Ibarbalz, Nicolas Henry, Frédéric Mahé, Mathieu Ardyna, Adriana Zingone, Eleonora Scalco, Connie Lovejoy, Fabien Lombard, Olivier Jaillon, Daniele Iudicone, Shruti Malviya, Matthew B. Sullivan, Samuel Chaffron, Eric Karsenti, Marcel Babin, Emmanuel Boss, Patrick Wincker, Lucie Zinger, Colomban de Vargas, Chris BowlerLee Karp-Boss, Tara Oceans Coordinators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Arctic Ocean (AO) is being rapidly transformed by global warming, but its biodiversity remains understudied for many planktonic organisms, in particular for unicellular eukaryotes that play pivotal roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycles. The aim of this study was to characterize the biogeographic ranges of species that comprise the contemporary pool of unicellular eukaryotes in the AO as a first step toward understanding mechanisms that structure these communities and identifying potential target species for monitoring. Leveraging the Tara Oceans DNA metabarcoding data, we mapped the global distributions of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) found on Arctic shelves into five biogeographic categories, identified biogeographic indicators, and inferred the degree to which AO communities of unicellular eukaryotes share members with assemblages from lower latitudes. Arctic/Polar indicator OTUs, as well as some globally ubiquitous OTUs, dominated the detection and abundance of DNA reads in the Arctic samples. OTUs detected only in Arctic samples (Arctic-exclusives) showed restricted distribution with relatively low abundances, accounting for 10–16% of the total Arctic OTU pool. OTUs with high abundances in tropical and/or temperate latitudes (non-Polar indicators) were also found in the AO but mainly at its periphery. We observed a large change in community taxonomic composition across the Atlantic-Arctic continuum, supporting the idea that advection and environmental filtering are important processes that shape plankton assemblages in the AO. Altogether, this study highlights the connectivity between the AO and other oceans, and provides a framework for monitoring and assessing future changes in this vulnerable ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalElementa: Science of the Anthropocene
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 6 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-04-12
Acknowledgements: Tara Oceans (which includes both the Tara Oceans and Tara Oceans Polar Circle expeditions) would not exist without the leadership of the Tara Ocean Foundation and the continuous support of 23 institutes ( We further thank the commitment of the following sponsors: CNRS (in particular Groupement de Recherche GDR3280 and the Research Federation for the study of Global Ocean Systems Ecology and Evolution, FR2022/Tara Oceans-GOSEE), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Genoscope/CEA, the French Ministry of Research, and the French Government “Investissements d’Avenir” programmes OCEANOMICS (ANR-11-BTBR-0008), FRANCE GENOMIQUE (ANR-10-INBS-09-08), MEMO LIFE (ANR-10-LABX-54), and PSL* Research University (ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02). Funding for the collection and processing of the TARA data set was provided by NASA Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program under grants NNX11AQ14G, NNX09AU43G, NNX13AE58G and NNX15AC08G to the University of Maine, and Canada Excellence Research Chair on Remote sensing of Canada’s new Arctic frontier (MB). CB additionally acknowledges funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 835067; Diatomic). FMI is currently a researcher at CONICET, thanks his current PI, Pedro Flombaum, and acknowledges funding from ECOS SUD (AT08ST18), ANPCYT (PICT-2017-3020), UBACYT (20020170100620BA) and MINCYT Pampa Azul (PIDT-A6). We also thank the support and commitment of agnès b. and Etienne Bourgois, the Prince Albert II de Monaco Foundation, the Veolia Foundation, Region Bretagne, Lorient Agglomeration, Serge Ferrari, Worldcourier, and KAUST. The global sampling effort was enabled by countless scientists and crew who sampled aboard the Tara from 2009 to 2013, and we thank MERCATOR CORIOLIS and ACRI-ST for providing daily satellite data during the expeditions. We are also grateful to the countries who graciously granted sampling permissions. Finally, we thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback that greatly helped to improve the manuscript. The authors declare that all data reported herein are fully and freely available from the date of publication, with no restrictions, and that all of the analyses, publications, and ownership of data are free from legal entanglement or restriction by the various nations whose waters the Tara Oceans expeditions sampled in. This article is contribution number 144 of Tara Oceans.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


Dive into the research topics of 'Pan-Arctic plankton community structure and its global connectivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this