The Antarctic Peninsula region exhibits one of the largest warming trends in the world. Climate warming in this region is reducing the duration of winter sea-ice cover, altering both the pelagic ecosystem and bentho-pelagic coupling. We postulate that shelf benthic ecosystems are highly suitable for tracking climate change because they act as “low-pass” filters, removing high-frequency seasonal noise and responding to longer-term trends in pelagic ecosystem structure and export production. We are conducting a 3-year study of bentho-pelagic coupling along a latitudinal climate gradient to explore the potential impacts of climate change (e.g., reduction in sea-ice duration) on Antarctic shelf ecosystems. We are conducting three cruises during summer and winter regimes along a 5-station transect from near Smith Island (63°S) to Marguerite Bay (68.5°S), evaluating a broad range of benthic ecological and biogeochemical processes. Specifically, we are examining the feeding strategies of benthic deposit feeders along this climatic gradient to elucidate the potential response of this major trophic group to climatic warming. In addition, we are (1) quantifying carbon and nitrogen cycling and burial at the seafloor and (2) documenting changes in megafaunal, macrofaunal, and microbial community structure along this latitudinal gradient. We expect to develop predictive insights into the response of Antarctic shelf ecosystems to some of the effects of climate warming (e.g., a reduction in winter sea-ice duration).
Follow our scientific expeditions in the Antarctic ocean through our webblog:
|Current Research Interests|
"Benthic Faunal Feeding Dynamics on the Antarctic Shelf and the Effects
of Global Climate Change on Bentho-Pelagic Coupling, FOODBANCS-2".
Principal Investigators: Craig R. Smith, University of Hawaii;
David J. DeMaster and Carrie J. Thomas, North Carolina State University
A project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
Current Research - FOODBANCS-2