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Inter-annual growth of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus, L.) in relation to climate variation

David M Kristensen1, Thomas R Jørgensen2, Rasmus K Larsen3, Mads C Forchhammer4 and Kirsten S Christoffersen3*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics A, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark

2 Dept. of Veterinary Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Stigbøjlen 4, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

3 Freshwater Biological Laboratory, Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Helsingørsgade 51, DK-3400 Hillerød, Denmark

4 Dept. of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, Frederiksborgsvej 399, P.O. Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark

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BMC Ecology 2006, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1472-6785-6-10

Published: 27 August 2006



Major changes in climate have been observed in the Arctic and climate models predict further amplification of the enhanced greenhouse effect at high-latitudes leading to increased warming. We propose that warming in the Arctic may affect the annual growth conditions of the cold adapted Arctic charr and that such effects can already be detected retrospectrally using otolith data.


Inter-annual growth of the circumpolar Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus, L.) was analysed in relation to climatic changes observed in the Arctic during the last two decades. Arctic charr were sampled from six locations at Qeqertarsuaq in West Greenland, where climate data have been recorded since 1990. Two fish populations met the criteria of homogeny and, consequently, only these were used in further analyses. The results demonstrate a complex coupling between annual growth rates and fluctuations in annual mean temperatures and precipitation. Significant changes in temporal patterns of growth were observed between cohorts of 1990 and 2004.


Differences in pattern of growth appear to be a consequence of climatic changes over the last two decades and we thereby conclude that climatic affects short term and inter-annual growth as well as influencing long term shifts in age-specific growth patterns in population of Arctic charr.