Seasonal Ecology Group

Seasonal Ecology

Seasonality is a central template in nature and an important selective force. We aim to understand how seasonal environments shape ecological processes and evolutionary adaptations and how human stressors impact these processes. Most of our research questions have an annual cycle perspective to them. We run both theoretical and empirical studies. Coastal and marine organisms form the main part of our work, but with some studies also in terrestrial systems including links between sea and land.

The Seasonal Ecology Group is Øystein Varpe's research lab, based at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen. It is  embedded in the larger multi-lab unit, the Theoretical Ecology Group

Coasts - where sea and land meet


Zooplankton sampling all year round

Two generations - and spectators. Larus hyperboreus


Our field is evolutionary ecology, with particular attention to how seasonality shapes ecological processes and evolutionary adaptations.

Central topics in our lab:

Some current projects

The Nansen Legacy. Varpe is sub-task leader and PhD adviser. Funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN).

ClimateNarratives. Varpe is WP-leader and adviser for two PhD-candidates. Funded by RCN.

Understanding human-induced trophic cascades in coastal ecosystems (CASCADES). NINA leads. Funded by RCN.

The impact of artificial light on arctic marine organisms and ecosystems during the polar night (Deep Impact). UiT leads. Funded by RCN.

Øystein Varpe - Professor. Evolutionary ecology, Population biology, Marine ecology

Juan Manuel Valero Rodríguez - Postdoc. Macroalgae ecology

Robynne Nowicki - PhD candidate. Energy content in Arctic zooplankton and fish

Iliana-Vasiliki Ntinou - PhD candidate. Plankton ecology

Rebecca Duncan - PhD candidate. Sea ice algae and trophic interactions

Tom Langbehn - affiliated researcher. Zooplankton-fish interactions

Martyna Syposz - affiliated researcher. Seabird ecology 

Zofia Burr - affiliated researcher. Seabird phenology

Idun Kjoberg - MSc student. Otter mink interactions

Marina Metic - MSc student. Harbour porpoise body condition

Catharina Olsen - MSc student. Habitat use and behaviour of wrasses

Vetle Fredheim - MSc student. Seasonal community dynamics og gelatinous zooplankton

 More about us

Three recent publications:

Varpe & Gabrielsen. 2022. Aggregations of foraging black guillemots (Cepphus grylle) at a sea-ice edge in front of a tidewater glacier. Polar Research open access

Varpe & Bauer. 2022. Seasonal animal migrations and the Arctic: ecology, diversity, and spread of infectious agents. Springeronline

Bandara et al. 2021. Two hundred years of zooplankton vertical migration research. Biological Reviews open access

and some "classics":

Varpe Ø, Daase M, Kristiansen T. 2015. A fish-eye view on the new Arctic lightscape. ICES Journal of Marine Science 72: 2532-2538 abstract pdf

Ji R, Jin M, Varpe Ø. 2013. Sea ice phenology and timing of primary production pulses in the Arctic Ocean. Global Change Biology  19: 734-741 abstract

Varpe Ø. 2012. Fitness and phenology: annual routines and zooplankton adaptations to seasonal cycles. Journal of Plankton Research 34: 267-276  full text

Varpe Ø. et al. 2007. Early is better: seasonal egg fitness and timing of reproduction in a zooplankton life-history model. Oikos 116: 1331-1342  pdf 

Full list of publications

Collaborators and networks

bioCEED - Centre for Excellence in Biology Education.  ARCTOS - Arctic marine ecosystem research network.  Section for Aquatic biology and toxicology (AQUA), University of Oslo.  Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, NTNU. DEEP - Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University.  The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS).  Farallon Institute, California.  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). 

Theoretical Ecology Group, University of Bergen.

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) - where Øystein has an adjunct position.

Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

Nordic Society Oikos


Reflections on Papers Past - revisiting old papers in ecology and evolution through interviews.

Life history evolution. Online lecture by Steven Stearns, Yale University.

We have at all times acknowledged seasons. Vivaldi's musical conception in The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni) is a splendid artistic reminder - here an amazing performance of Winter (L'inverno).