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Marine biodiversity of McMurdo Sound

Rod Budd (NIWA)
Antarctica New Zealand
Pictorial Collection:K081:02/03

Latitudinal Gene Drift in Ross Sea Organisms

This project was interested in the mechanisms by which about 100 or so notothenioid fish species have radiated in about 15 to 20 million years, apparently from one ancestral species. To do this samples were taken from populations of cosmopolitan notothenioid species from a number of sites. The aim was to collect sufficient number of fish from each site and for each species to allow assessment of differences both within and between populations and sites.

Contact: Dr Craig Marshall, University of Otago, New Zealand

Lipid Metabolism and Adaptation in Antarctic Fish

This research concentrates primarily on the adaptation of polar organisms to their environment - covering past adaptation and the present capacity to cope with future change. In particular, this work related to Key Questions 1, 2, 3 and 6. Victoria is interested in Antarctic fish and how they function. The area of biology is known as functional genomics- a combination of molecular biology, evolutionary biology and biochemistry. This research examines molecular and physiological differences between organisms and also uses these differences to learn more about how animals function in their environment (envirogenomics).

Contact: Dr Victoria Metcalf, Lincoln University, New Zealand

Latitudinal Patterns in the Abundance of Ross Sea Meroplankton

The pelagic community of the Ross Sea consists of a permanent component (= holoplankton), exemplified by animals such as copepods, and a temporary component which is primarily made up from the larval stages of benthic marine invertebrates and fish (= the meroplankton).  To date little attention has been paid to the distribution and abundance patterns of the meroplankton, hampered in part by the inability to identify these larval “types” to the species-level.  Detailed studies of the meroplankton community at a range of latitudes were undertaken involving daily quantification of the distribution and abundance of the common larval forms identified.

Contact: Dr Mary Sewell, Auckland University, New Zealand

Antarctic Sea Ice, Algal Productivity and Global Climate Change

This study aimed to provide ground truth data of total primary productivity and biodiversity and aimed to be the first to assess the effect of global climate change on primary productivity in Antarctic coastal ecosystems. The relationship between the extent of ice cover and total primary production along an extensive north-south transect of the western coast of the Ross Sea, was used to predict future scenarios of reduced ice at sites further south.

Contact: Dr Ken Ryan, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Cape Hallett Metadata
Terra Nova Bay Metadata
Granite Harbour Metadata

The NIWA research vessel Tangaroa
in the Ross Sea region

Courtesy of the
Ross Sea Voyage 2004

Antarctic Aquatic Ecosystems (Coastal)

Antarctica's coastal marine environments support diverse benthic communities, structured by a range of physical and biotic factors. The project is interested in how these communities are influenced by environmental factors (e.g. sea ice, light regime, icebergs). It used the natural variability in these factors along the latitudinal extent of the Ross Sea coast line. By understanding these links the project can begin to see how future changes (e.g. a result of climate variability, fishing) might affect the structure, diversity and function of Antarctic benthos.

Contact: Vonda Cummings, National Institute for Water and Atmosphere, Wellington, New Zealand.
Life Beneath the Ice - Article in Water and Atmosphere
Assessing Biodiversity on the Antarctic Sea Floor - Article in Water and Atmosphere
IceCUBE website

Benthic Communities Structure and Dynamics Along the Victoria Land Coast

The distribution of the littoral benthic communities in the Ross Sea are generally poorly known. More information is available around the permanent stations (McMurdo, Scott and BTN-Mario Zucchelli). This project aims to: evaluate the distribution of the main benthic communities along the Victoria Land Coast, test a hypothesis for polar emergence, provide a quasi-quantitative evaluation of biomass, undertake key species identification, and study the relationships between the benthic communities, ice scouring and water column variables.

Contact: Riccardo Cattaneo-Vietti, University of Genoa, Italy,

Echinoderm and Mollusc Population Structure, Reproductive Ecology and its Consequences on Population Isolation

Molluscs and echinoderms are widespread marine organisms which often play a key role in benthic community structure and dynamics. This project aims to: evaluate the reproductive features of Antarctic echinoderms and molluscs, evaluate the role of environmental variables in affecting reproductive effort and timing along the Victoria Land latitudinal gradient, study the influence of food availability and temperature on growth rates, and estimate energetic variations in body tissues at different times and in different environmental conditions.

Contact: Mariachiara Chiantore, University of Genoa, Italy,