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3.3 BriGHT (Bridging Global change, Inuit Health and the Transforming Arctic Ocean)

Principal Investigators

Jean-Eric Tremblay, Mélanie Lemire

Co-Investigators

Dermot Antoniades, Philippe Archambault, Pierre Ayotte, Louis Bernatchez, Johann Lavaud, Michel Lucas, Frédéric Maps, Guillaume Massé

Collaborators

Christopher Fletcher, Louis Fortier, Frédéric Laugrand, François Laviolette, Jean-Sébastien Moore, Gina Muckle

Collaborators outside U. Laval

Ellen Avard, Michael Kwan (Makivik); Tommy Pallisser, Kaitlin Breton-Honeyman (NMRWB); Mike Hammil, Véronique Lesage (MPO); Shawn Donaldson (Santé Canada); Jim Berner (Alaska); Stig Falk-Petersen (Norvège); Julien Mainguy (MFFP); Alphonso Mucci (McGill U.); Gert Mulvad (Groenland); Frédéric Olivier (France); CJ Mundy, Tim Papakyriakou, Gary Stern, Feiyue Wang (U. Manitoba); Pal Weihe (Danemark)

Projects summary

Local marine foods (LMF) are central to Inuit culture and subsistence in the Arctic. Conversely, the Arctic Ocean is changing and Inuit see signs that LMF are different and becoming less accessible. Inuit make food choices according to their preferences but also the accessibility, abundance, visual appearance and quality of different LMF. These four characteristics of LMF are strongly tied to the light environment via the photosynthetic production of microalgal biomass, which is the main entry point for energy, numerous vital or health-enhancing molecules, and contaminants into the food web.

Yet we do not know how the quantity and proportion of these substances in algae, zooplankton and LMF respond to climate-driven changes in sea ice, light availability and the physicochemical properties of Arctic seawater, how this response modifies the food choices of Inuit and impacts their health and wellbeing.

BriGHT will

1) assess the synergistic effects of light, warming, acidification and nutrient availability on the accumulation of contaminants and the production of health-enhancing molecules in microalgae,

2) model the transfer of these substances from algae to the upper food web,

3) quantify these substances in LMF and the blood of Inuit with respect to their food consumption profiles, the visual appearance of LMF, and indicators of food security, well-being and physical and mental health, and

4) implement novel genomic approaches to monitor spatial and temporal changes in the presence and abundance of LMF.

The work will integrate oceanographic sampling, optics, ecosystem modeling and a metagenomic study of Arctic Char foraging in Nunavik, building a synergy with the 2017 Qanuilirpitaa Health Survey. These results will allow to model plausible climate-driven trajectories in LMF characteristics and their likely impact on Inuit health and wellbeing, assisting with the formulation of locally-adapted mitigation adaptation strategies aimed at promoting Inuit local food systems and security in Nunavik.

Documentation

Bright Project Annual Progress Report 17-18 (.pdf, 1.5 Mo)