Research

Mapping predicting and monitoring ecological change in the Southern Ocean

  • Research Theme
    Ecology & Biodiversity
  • Funded By

    Co-funded by an Australian Antarctic Program Science Grant

  • Principal Investigator
  • Contributor(s)
  • Project Summary

    The Southern Ocean occupies approximately 20% of the global ocean, supports exceptional biodiversity, productive and distinctive ecosystems as well as critical functions.

    While evidence is equivocal that the physical environment of the Southern Ocean has changed over the last 30 years and will continue to do so on a time scale of decades, understanding the ecological consequences of these changes lags well behind.

    This knowledge-gap has consequences for developing and assessing policy and management actions, now and into the future. Our project aims to address this significant issue by gaining an understanding of whether, how and why entire assemblages of key species have changed in response to environmental and other factors.

    It will use existing long-term datasets combined with recent advances in ecological statistics to detect and attribute recent change and predict future change in two key Southern Ocean assemblages, demersal fish and zooplankton.

    This information will then be used as the basis of simulations to provide advice on a broad-scale approach for monitoring zooplankton.

    The project will provide maps of changes in the distribution of key species and assemblage, identify correlates of change, identify susceptible species and assess current and proposed spatial management scenarios.

    Together, these outputs will significantly advance the scientific information available for policy and management to:

    • take into account likely impacts of climate change in policy decisions on natural resources
    • inform ecosystem monitoring practices, and
    • evaluate spatial management arrangements.

    Image (top right): Themisto gaudichaudii is an amphipod crustacean found in the Southern Ocean (Photo: Kerrie Swaddling)

    Interested in this project?

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
March 2, 2021