Biodiversity patterns of marine infauna on the Antarctic shelf

Supervision team:

Dr Nicole Hill

Dr Jonny Stark (Australian Antarctic Division)

More than 90% of the world’s oceans occur at depths below the photic zone rely on food that sinks through the water-column, a link referred to as pelagic- benthic coupling. A newly developed technique that estimates patterns of food availability on the seafloor based on ocean models and patterns of surface productivity, has shown the link between seafloor communities and surface productivity largely depends on which types of seafloor organisms are considered. While current research mainly focuses on megabenthos such as corals and sponges, the sediment infauna play a vital role in the functioning of this unique benthic ecosystem and is less studied. Quantifying patterns of both the megabenthos and the infauna and their relation to environmental variables such as food availability can help to better manage, understand and protect this unique environment.

This project aims to quantify and predict patterns of marine infauna biodiversity in East Antarctica using maps pf food availability and other relevant environmental variables. The project will also use the food availability maps to test hypotheses about productivity-biodiversity relationships.

The project will involve the sorting and identification of infauna and will utilise new biodiversity modelling techniques. The project is a collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
October 7, 2019