2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Winter survival mechanisms and adaptive genetic variation in an Antarctic insect

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Jamee Johnson

Principal Investigator

Dr. Richard Lee

Miami University
Oxford, Ohio

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: Palmer Station
Research Locations: Christine, Cormorant, Hermit, Humble, and Torgersen Islands / Norsel Point


The Antarctic midge can survive even if it loses 70 percent of its body water. Since polar regions are deserts that are not only cold but also lack access to free water, the midge survives in this environment via unique mechanisms that include the ability to tolerate freezing and extensive dehydration. How this is done is of interest for understanding seasonal adaptations of insects and how they respond to climate change. Additionally, the molecular and physiological mechanisms employed may offer valuable insights into more general mechanisms that might be exploited for cryopreservation and long-term storage of human tissue and organs for transplantation and other medical applications.

Field Season Overview

A science team of five will be at Palmer Station for January and February to collect adult and larvae midges. They will use a Zodiac inflatable boat to access several islands near station. Two team members will remain on station through mid March to continue lab work and field studies, tracking seasonal changes in microclimatic conditions and the physiological state of larvae as they prepare to overwinter. Samples will be returned to the home institution for further study.

Deploying Team Members

  • Josiah Gantz