CAREER: Dynamics of Predator-Prey Behavior in the Antarctic Ocean
The goal of this proposal to bring two groups of undergraduate students to the Antarctic, where they will participate in the collection of data on seabird abundance and behavior. This proposal combines research on the dynamics of seabirds that feed on Antarctic krill, with the teaching of mathematical modeling of foraging behavior and spatial statistics. Students will learn a broad collection of skills through collection of data on physical and biological oceanography as part of the research project that focuses on seabirds. The research goal of this proposal is to learn how foraging seabirds in the Antarctic respond to changes in the abundance and distribution of their prey, primarily Antarctic krill. The approach will be to study bird behavior in the vicinity of krill swarms, and to contrast this behavior to that in areas lacking krill. From these comparisons, foraging models that will make predictions about the dispersion of birds under differing levels of krill abundance will be built. The long-term goal is to be able to make predictions about the impact upon seabirds of future changes in krill stocks. Field work will be conducted in the vicinity of Elephant Island in two field seasons. In each season, the insular shelf north of Elephant Island will be surveyed and the abundance, distribution and behavior of seabirds will be recorded. The primary objective will be to quantify the linkage between prey abundance and bird behavior, with the long-term goal of using information on bird behavior to index long-term changes in the prey base. The teaching goal of this proposal is twofold. First, the project will expose inner city college students to a spectacular and economically important ecosystem. Through their work on an oceanographic research vessel, students will be exposed to a broad diversity of research topics and methods, ranging from behavioral ecology to physical oceanography. Second, back at Staten Island, students will participate in the development of a mathematical biology initiative at the College of Staten Island. Here students will be encouraged to apply basic mathematical reasoning and computer modeling to a real problem - that of determining how foraging choices made by seabirds can ultimately impact their reproductive success.
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Platforms and Instruments
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