Marine Endotherm Ecology
Marine top predators in the Antarctic sea ice zone
Marine top predators including seals and birds have the ability to detect areas of high food abundance. Ocean fronts, eddies and shifting sea ice facilitate areas of high biological productivity where intermediate and upper trophic level interactions maximise. These conditions attract top predators which concentrate their foraging on lucrative feeding spots. Variations in foraging ranges and movements of top predators are hence an important source of information about environmental variability integrated over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Where do top predators forage and how deep and how long do they have to dive? What makes certain areas in the Antarctic Ocean better for foraging than others? What is the spatial and temporal stability of feeding spots? What are the dominant oceanographic signatures of these particular areas? These questions are challenging and require new techniques in conjunction with advanced analysis approaches to better understand the distribution patterns of Antarctic top predators in difficult-to-study areas and seasons and will provide clues as to why some areas of the Antarctic Ocean are important to these animals while others are not.
Data and collaboration
All published data and related meta-information are available in open access (OA) via the Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science PANGAEA. Yet unpublished data are available via PANGAEA upon request. The data are attributed to the long term observation project Marine Mammal Tracking (MMT). MMT is a collaborative project of the AWI's Marine Endotherm Ecology working group and its partners at the Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa, the Instituto Antártico Argentino, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan. The AWI's marine endotherm ecology working group focuses on Antarctic seals, mainly on the Weddell and southern elephant seal but also includes work on Antarctic penguins such as the emperor penguin.