Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition – Testing the diversity of marine refugia at sub-Antarctic islands

Research Projects | Updated 5 years ago

Research vessel riding out storm near the South Sandwich Islands
Research vessel riding out storm near the South Sandwich Islands
Greg Rouse

Antarctica provides a challenging environment for animals to live in. In the past, this climate has regularly been even harsher, with ice-impacted conditions extending even further towards the equator. In the past, the sub-Antarctic has been regularly impacted by glacial cycling, and climatic conditions were more like that in Antarctic today. Those previous glacial periods appeared to completely wipe out the animals living there, and most likely, the animals existing there today have only ‘recently’ recolonized these sub-Antarctic outposts after the Last Glacial Maximum. We will compare the genetic signature of animals in sub-Antarctic and compare this to data from Antarctica. We will also compare the natural chemical defences found in many marine organisms. Finally, we will compare biological interactions between the two regions, comparing symbioses among regions to understand the biological history of the sub-Antarctic marine fauna in a comprehensive and unified manner.

This Project will be led by the Western Australian Museum over three years and is a collaboration with La Trobe University, Universidad de Chile, and University of South Florida, USA.

This project has received funding from EPFL, Swiss Polar Institute and from Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

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