Bonner Laboratory and dive facility, Rothera Point, Adelaide Island
- Lat. 67°34'8"S, Long. 68°7'29"W
The Bonner Laboratory has state-of-the-art research facilities, an aquarium and dive facility complete with recompression chamber as well as offices and a library. During the Antarctic summer research teams from British Antarctic Survey, UK universities and international partners use the lab.
The Bonner Laboratory supports marine and terrestrial long-term monitoring programmes and a broad range of specific shorter-term studies, many of which are supported by boat and year-round diving.
Bi-weekly (weekly in winter) measurements of sea temperature, salinity, water chlorophyll content as well as major nutrients provide data for the Rothera Time Series (RaTS, https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/rats/), which has been ongoing since 1997.
Diving supported long-term monitoring of the benthic community involves biodiversity studies (https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/changing-biodiversity/#about), reproductive assessment of a wide range of invertebrate species, including different echinoderms, bivalves and nemerteans (https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/reproduction-in-a-changing-world/) as well as monitoring of iceberg scour and its impact on the benthic community (Iceberg Impact Study, IBIS).
Monitoring of the skua population on Rothera Point has been ongoing since 1999 (https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/skua-monitoring-at-rothera/). The initial intention was to monitor possible impacts of the station, but the data also provide useful indicators of local prey availability at sea, effects of changes in sea-ice coverage etc.
Short term studies vary more in their requirements and range from in-situ data collection to collection and preservation of biological samples – for laboratory studies in Rothera or for return to the UK to support BAS projects at Cambridge and science at collaborating institutes worldwide. Recent projects have included:
- Assessing the impact of changing conditions (deglaciation, temperature rise) on the performance of local Antarctic macroalgae using PAM fluorometry and investigating the physiology of Antarctic macroalgae during the polar winter: how are they able to survive without light for a long period of time?
- Investigating how resilient Antarctic benthic communities are to destructive ice scouring impact exacerbated by climate change. In particular, we monitored the recovery of a shallow near coast benthic ecosystem in Ryder Bay a decade after a period of catastrophic high frequency ice scouring affected more than 50 % of the sea floor. This is in connection with the IBIS project. Additionally, we compiled a food web model of the benthic ecosystem in Ryder Bay to estimate potential changes in food web structure with increasing ice-scour impact and are looking at how prolonged periods of high intensity disturbance affects competitive interactions in benthic secondary consumers.
- Researching growth and seasonality in shallow Antarctic benthos, specifically for sea cucumbers, sponges and anemones. Using photogrammetry to measure growth in the Antarctic sponge Mycale acerata and the anemones Urticinopsis antarctica and Isotelia Antarctica and charting the seasonal physiology and diet of the sea cucumbers Heterocucumis steineni and Cucumaria georgiana. The aim is to relate the findings to the factors influencing the onset of summer feeding after winter dormancy.
Diving science projects at Rothera are varied and demanding and are at the cutting edge of polar marine biology.
16 June, 2021 by Aurelia Reichardt
Rothera Marine Biologist Nadia Frontier and Rothera Marine Assistant Ryan Mathews spoke about the work of the Bonner Laboratory and dive facility at Rothera Research Station during the Global Biodiversity …
11 February, 2018 by Zoe Waring
To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11th February), Zoe Waring, the Marine Assistant at Rothera Research Station, has written a blog about her work at British …
19 January, 2018
A new study from British Antarctic Survey shows how five common Antarctic marine invertebrates (animals without a backbone) use less energy to feed, grow and reproduce than their temperate and …
31 August, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered that a 1°C rise in local sea temperature has massive impacts on an Antarctic marine community. These new results are published this week (31 …
Baseline study to monitor how marine biodiversity will respond to climate change
Long term science We know that our world is changing due to human influence. But how is it changing? Some areas, such as the Antarctic Peninsula, are changing more rapidly …
Reproductive capacity and success of marine animals
Can animals used to living in freezing waters cope with climate change? Will they survive in a warmer world? Marine animals around Antarctica are very used to living in water …
Over the next decade, Rothera Research Station will be upgraded to ensure its facilities keep the UK at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research. This comprehensive modernisation includes a new wharf for the RRS Sir David Attenborough and a new science and operations facility, the Discovery Building.
Earth System indicators in Antarctica
Deadlines & key dates
- March 31, 2015 – 2015/16 Season Facility Requirements deadline
- September 5, 2015 – 2015/16 packing deadline for all equipment to be shipped to Antarctic from UK
- December 15, 2015 – 2015/16 approximate first ship arrival at station