SO-AntEco (South Orkneys - State of the Antarctic Ecosystem)
- Start date
- 20 August, 2015
- End date
- 24 August, 2016
The South Orkney Islands is a small archipelago located in the Southern Ocean, 375 miles north-east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The seafloor around the South Orkney Islands has been shown to be an area with exceptionally high biodiversity. The marine animals there represent approximately one fifth of all species recorded for the entire Southern Ocean.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) closed all finfish fisheries around the South Orkney Islands in 1989, and in 2009 they established the South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf Marine Protected Area (SOISS MPA), the first MPA located entirely within the High Seas anywhere on the planet.
SO-AntEco was a British Antarctic Survey (BAS) led expedition undertaken in conjunction with an international team of scientists from the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) AntEco research programme. The team included participants from 9 different countries and 16 institutes. It also involved scientists from four UK universities (Bristol, Hull, Liverpool and Oxford) and the Natural History Museum in London. The expedition took place on board the BAS research ship the RRS James Clark Ross in early 2016 and was the sister project of the Krill Hotspots project. This expedition aimed to address aspects of all four of the BAS Grand Challenges for polar science.
The SO-AntEco expedition investigated the diversity of life both inside and outside of the SOISS MPA region in order to better understand the distribution and composition of the seafloor communities around islands. We undertook a research cruise that explored the different seafloor habitats to investigate if different environments support different communities of animals. Understanding where animals that are vulnerable to fishing and other human impacts (such as corals and sponges) live will help us to manage the region’s natural resources in the future.
- To find and identify seafloor animals from around the South Orkney Islands and to name any species new to science.
- To detect any significant differences between the types of species and numbers of animals in different habitats.
- To identify species that are indicative of specific habitat types to help with future habitat mapping.
- To map all vulnerable species found and to report their presence and distribution to relevant stakeholders such as CCAMLR.
Dr Helena Wiklund – Natural History Museum
Dr Laura Robinson – University of Bristol
Dr Cath Waller – University of Hull
Madeleine Brasier – University of Liverpool/Natural History Museum
Oliver Ashford – University of Oxford
Dr Michelle Taylor – University of Oxford
Prof. Bruno Danis – Université Libre de Bruxelles
Dr Marc Eléaume – Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle
Camille Moreau – Université Libre de Bruxelles
Prof. Angelika Brandt – Universität Hamburg
Rachel Downey – Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt
Dr Louise Allcock – National University of Ireland, Galway
Dr Vassily Spiridonov – P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Prof. Estefania Rodriguez – American Museum of Natural History
Melanie Mackenzie – Museum Victoria
Claudio Ghiglione – University of Siena and Italian National Antarctic Museum
Non-participating external collaborators
Dr Anton Van de Putte – University of Leuven
Prof. Philippe Archambault – Université du Québec
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