2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Body size, oxygen, and vulnerability to climate change: a physiological study of Antarctic Pycnogonida

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Beverly Walker

Principal Investigator

Dr. Amy Moran

University of Hawaii Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Sound


Researchers will examine the physiology and scaling of metabolism, cuticular structure, and leg strength in Antarctic pycnogonids (sea spiders) to test the hypothesis that the enhanced size of polar ectotherms makes them particularly vulnerable to global climate change. They will collect pycnogonids of a range of sizes and assess their physiological responses to temperature stress, will measure whole-body drag and behavioral responses to variation in water velocity, and will video-record in-situ locomotion in relation to water velocity. They will also examine the structure, permeability, strength, and flexural stiffness of pycnogonid leg cuticles to determine whether there is a trade-off between cuticular permeability and leg strength and stiffness. In addition, researchers will study the behavior, movement, and oxygen microenvironments of pycnogonids in the field. Using physiological and morphological data, they will also develop mathematical models to predict physiological responses to future climate scenarios.

Field Season Overview

Researchers will make day trips by Pisten Bully to multiple locations around McMurdo Sound, and by helicopter to sites at New and Granite Harbors. They will dive approximately four times a week to video record and collect samples of pycnogonids. They will also deploy and redeploy oxygen and temperature dataloggers, and will perform laboratory respiration, thermal tolerance and biomechanical experiments in Crary lab.

Deploying Team Members

  • Timothy Dwyer
  • Steven Lane
  • Amy Moran (PI)
  • Caitlin Shishido
  • Bret Tobalske (Co-PI)
  • Arthur Woods (Co-PI)