2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Evolutionary genomic responses in Antarctic notothenioid fishes to climatic and environmental change

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B-211-M Research Location(s): Sea Ice


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Julian nmi Catchen
University of Illinois Urbana
Animal Biology c/o Art DeVries
Urbana, Illinois


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Sea Ice


As plate tectonics pushed Antarctica into a polar position, the continent and its surrounding ocean became geographically and thermally isolated by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Terrestrial and marine glaciation followed, resulting in extinctions as well as the survival and radiation of unique flora and fauna. The notothenioid fish survived and arose from a common ancestral stock into 120 species that dominate today, largely by adapting traits including antifreeze proteins for survival in extreme cold. Researchers will investigate the full spectrum of these fishes’ genomic and genetic responses to climatic and environmental change, how they adapted to the changing Southern Ocean environment over the evolutionary past, and how they may continue to evolve in the future.

Field Season Overview

Team members will reside on station and make day trips to their sea-ice sites in McMurdo Sound by PistenBully and snowmobile. They will work in conjunction with the Cziko (B-195-M) project to catch fish in traps from holes drilled in the sea ice. They will keep live fish in the Crary Laboratory aquaria and will use the lab to conduct most of their experiments and process samples for transport to their home institution for further analysis.

Deploying Team Members

  • Julian Catchen (PI)
  • Chris Cheng-DeVries
  • Macgregor Willis