Project Information
Antarctic Pack Ice Seals: Ecological Interactions with Prey and the Environment
Start Date:
End Date:
The pack ice region surrounding Antarctica contains at least fifty percent of the world's population of seals, comprising about eighty percent of the world's total pinniped biomass. As a group, these seals are among the dominant top predators in Southern Ocean ecosystems, and the fluctuation in their abundance, growth patterns, life histories, and behavior provide a potential source of information about environmental variability integrated over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. This proposal was developed as part of the international Antarctic Pack Ice Seals (APIS) program, which is aimed to better understand the ecological relationships between the distribution of pack ice seals and their environment. During January-February, 2000, a research cruise through the pack ice zone of the eastern Ross Sea and western Amundsen Sea will be conducted to survey and sample along six transects perpendicular to the continental shelf. Each of these transects will pass through five environmental sampling strata: continental shelf zone, Antarctic slope front, pelagic zone, the ice edge front, and the open water outside the pack ice zone. All zones but open water will be ice-covered to some degree. Surveys along each transect will gather data on bathymetry, hydrography, sea ice dynamics and characteristics, phytoplankton and ice algae stocks, prey species (e.g., fish, cephalopods and euphausiids), and seal distribution, abundance and diet. This physical and trophic approach to investigating ecological interactions among pack ice seals, prey and the physical environment will allow the interdisciplinary research team to test the hypothesis that there are measurable physical and biological features in the Southern Ocean that result in area of high biological activity by upper trophic level predators. Better insight into the interplay among pack ice seals and biological and physical features of Antarctic marine ecosystems will allow for a better prediction of fluctuation in seal population in the context of environmental change.
Person Role
Bengtson, John Investigator
Unknown Program Award # 9815961
AMD - DIF Record(s)
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