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

Project Title

Investigating Holocene shifts in the diets and paleohistory of Antarctic krill predators

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Matthew Erickson / Elizabeth Kauffman / Cara Ferrier

Principal Investigator

Dr. Michael Polito

Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Supporting Stations: Special Project, McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Antarctic Peninsula


Researchers will sample active and abandoned penguin colonies for sediments and tissues and conduct radiocarbon, stable isotope, and mercury analyses to investigate the paleohistory and diet of penguins. Sediments will be analyzed by Chinese collaborators for bio-elements from past penguin occupations. Data will be correlated with paleoclimatic signals to assess population movement and occupation history in penguins. This project will also involve international collaborations to investigate the underlying mechanisms behind shifts in the diets and paleohistory of Antarctic krill predators, in concert with climate variability and anthropogenic harvesting during the Holocene. Modern and ancient Antarctic krill predator tissues from penguins, seals, and squid recovered during this project will be combined with historic museum specimens and modern and ancient tissues available from previous paleoecological excavations.

Field Season Overview

Researchers will sample locations that have active penguin colonies in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region. They will access those locations using existing collaborations with private tour ship companies.

Deploying Team Members

  • Steven Emslie (Co-PI)
  • Kelton McMahon
  • Chantel Michelson