Project Information
RAPID: Monographing the Antarctic and Subantarctic Cumacea
Start Date:
End Date:
Ocean communities play an important role in determining the natural and human impacts of global change. The most conspicuous members of those communities are generally large vertebrates such as marine mammals and sea birds. But smaller animals often determine how the changes impact those charismatic animals. In the Antarctic, where some of the most dramatic physical changes are taking place, we do not know much about what small animals exist. This project will sample the sub-Antarctic and three different Antarctic seas with a hope of identifying, quantifying and discovering the variation in species of a group of small invertebrates. Comma shrimp, also called cumaceans, are rarely seen elsewhere but may be common and important in the communities of these locations. Antarctic sampling traditionally used gear that was not very effective at catching cumaceans so we do not know what species exist there and how common they are. This study will utilize modern sampling methods that will allow comma shrimp to be sampled. This will lead to discoveries about the diversity and abundance of comma shrimp, as well as their relationship to other invertebrate species. Major impacts of this work will be an enhancement of museum collections, the development of description of all the comma shrimp of Antarctica including new and unnamed species. Those contributions may be especially important as we strive to understand what drives the dynamics of charismatic vertebrates and fisheries that are tied to Antarctic food webs.

This project will collect cumaceans from benthic samples from the Antarctic peninsula, Bransfield Strait, and the Weddell Sea using benthic sleds, boxcores and megacores. Specimens will be fixed in 95% ethanol, preserved in 95% ethanol and 5% glycerin to preserve both morphology and DNA, and some specimens will be partially or wholly preserved in RNALater to preserve RNA and DNA. The specimens will form the basis for a monograph synthesizing current knowledge on the Subantarctic and Antarctic Cumacea, including diagnoses of all species, descriptions of new species, additional description for currently unknown life stages of known species, and vouchered gene sequences for all species collected. The monograph will include keys to all families, genera and species known from the region. Monographic revisions that include identification resources are typically useful for decades to a broad spectrum of other scientists.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Person Role
Gerken, Sarah Investigator and contact
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 2032029
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Deployment Type
Sarah Gerken ship expedition
Data Management Plan
Product Level:
0 (raw data)
Platforms and Instruments

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