2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Ocean acidification: Integrated approaches to understanding effects on antarctic sea urchins, Sterechinus neumayeri

Program Manager:
Dr. Diana Nemergut


ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Cara Sucher

Dr. Gretchen Hofmann (Principal Investigator)
http://hofmannlab.msi.ucsb.edu/External Non U.S. Government Site

University of California Santa Barbara
Department of Ecology, Evolution, Marine Biology
Santa Barbara, California

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Cape Evans / McMurdo Jetty / Crary Lab

Project Description:
This project studies the effects of ocean acidification on embryos and larvae of the Antarctic sea urchin, Sterechinus neumayeri. One group of larvae will be raised under high carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions to mimic the high CO2/low pH ocean expected in the future. Another group will be raised under present-day ambient conditions. The physiology and response of two groups will be compared with the aim of understanding how the larvae are able to calcify and make their calcium carbonate skeletons at low pH. In the lab researchers will prepare samples to assess changes in protein content of the larval skeleton. RNA samples will enable them to use a DNA microarray during subsequent work at their home institution to assess patterns of gene expression for genes involved in biomineralization or in other important biochemical pathways. Other research in the lab includes measuring oxygen consumption with a micro-respirometry unit, and testing thermotolerance of the embryos and larvae.

Field Season Overview:
This is the project’s third field season and the activites will be similar to the fieldwork of the first season. Five researchers will deploy to work in the lab and in the field. As early in October as practicable, staff divers will collect adult sea urchins at Cape Evans while the research team collects environmental samples. Research team members will transport the urchins back to the lab in a timely fashion to commence the experimental phase of the project. Accompanied by the research team, staff divers will also retrieve a pH sensor (SeaFETs) from its over-winter deployment at the jetty dive hut. Project participants’ arrivals and departures will coincide with their roles during the collection and experimental phases of the project.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Gretchen Hofmann (PI)
  • Amanda Kelley
  • Olivia Turnross
  • Pauline Yu

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Office of Polar Programs