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–category 1: Identifying adaptive responses of polar fishes in a vulnerable ecosystem

Program Manager:
Dr. Diana Nemergut


ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Beverly Walker

Dr. Sean Place (Principal Investigator)

Department of Biology
Rohnert Park, California

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Cape Evans / Inaccessible Island / New Harbor / Sea Ice / Crary Lab

Project Description:
This project aims to understand the interaction of two oceanographic features—ocean acidification and the projected rise in mean sea surface temperature—on the performance of Notothenioids, the dominant fish of the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Understanding the physiological trade-offs that may occur under certain conditions will provide valuable insight into the capacity for fish species to cope with rapid environmental changes such as those expected under global climate change scenarios. Analysis will include whole organism performance metrics, along with standard molecular and cell biology approaches to assess cellular damage. Researchers will employ evolutionary approaches to map variation in physiological responses onto the phylogeny of these fishes and characterize genetic diversity within species.

Field Season Overview:
Starting in the August Winfly period, project participants will collect seven species of Notothenoid fishes by hook and line fishing in shallow water and/or by setting baited fish traps on the ocean floor at 400-800 meter depths. In the Crary Phase III aquarium, specimens will be acclimated to seawater conditions expected under future atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) projections. Two participants will arrive at Winfly and three more will arrive at mainbody. The five will remain on station until late December to take full advantage of sea ice viability for surface travel and allow acclimation to take place over three months.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Allison Barden
  • Laura Enzor
  • Evan Hunter
  • Sean Place (PI)

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