Projects & Expeditions
Jan 2013 to Dec 2018 (funded)
Biological timing in a changing marine environment - Clocks and rhythms in polar pelagic organisms
Population Shift and Ecosystem Response – Krill vs. Salps (POSER) The western Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean (SO) and the northern part of the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) in particular is one of the fastest warming areas on the planet, making this part of the SO to an invaluable observatory for ecosystem responses to climate change. Long-term data sets indicate a significant decrease of sea ice cover leading to shifts on different levels in the WAP region such as a decline in krill abundance in the northern part of the WAP and an increase of salp populations as well as a shift in food quality and quantity. Due to their delicate feeding basket, salps prefer ‘warmer’, ice-free waters with lower phytoplankton concentrations. Krill and salps are among the most important grazers in the SO, occupying completely different ecological and spatial niches. They differ remarkably in their life cycles, their mode of feeding and reproduction, the way they fuel the lower food web by organic matter release and the upper tropic levels as prey and in their importance for the SO-fishery. Therefore, shifts in dominance between these two groups will most likely trigger a cascade of short- and long-term changes in ecosystem structure and function, affecting both the functional biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles in the pelagic system of the western Atlantic sector of the SO. The overall aim of POSER is to understand how krill and salps influence productivity, regeneration of macronutrients (N, P, Si) and micronutrients (FE, Zn, Co, Cu, Cd, Pb) with a special focus on Fe, carbon export and structure of the microbial food web in the western Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. The interdisciplinary approach will allow predicting the causal effect of climate induced environmental changes on a) the population dynamics of key players in the pelagic system (krill, salps) and b) the consequences of an abundance shift of these organisms on the lower trophic food web, stoichiometry, and carbon flux. Given the important role of the Antarctic food web in the global ocean, our project has large societal relevance enabling us to predict consequences of global warming for the Southern polar ocean.
Prof. Dr. Bettina Meyer, Prof. Dr. Helmut Hillebrand
Prof. Dr. Helmut, Hillebrand (ICBM)
Dr. Stefanie Moorthi (ICBM)
Prof. Dr. Bernd Blasius (ICBM)
Prof. Dr. Bettina Meyer (AWI/ICBM)
Prof. Dr. Scarlett Trimborn (AWI)
Dr. Morten Iversen (AWI/MARUM)
Working groups ICBM
Biodiversity and biological processes in polar oceans (Meyer)
Mathematic Modelling (Blasius)
Drs Katja Metfies, Christine Klaas (both AWI)
Prof. Dr. Evgeny Pakhomov and Dr. Brian Hunt, University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada,
Prof. Dr. Deborah Steinberg, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), USA,
Dr. Marina Monti, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy.
Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK)
The project and the financial support are located at the University of Oldenburg.
The Performance of Krill vs. Salps to withstand in a warming Southern Ocean (PEKRIS)
PEKRIS is complementary project to POSER – Population Shift and Ecosystem Response – Krill vs. Salps. While POSER concentrates on the biogeochemical fluxes in the Southern Ocean, POSER focusses on the organismic level of krill vs. salps. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) plays a central role in the Antarctic food chain. Top predators such as penguins, seals and whales directly or indirectly depend on high krill stocks. Krill fishery is the biggest fishery of crustaceans worldwide with over 230,000 t per year (State 2013, FAO). Long-term data sets indicate a drastic decline of the krill populations in the Southern Ocean since the mid 70s. While krill stocks are sinking, rising abundances of gelatinous organisms (jellyfish and salps) have been noted in the Southern Ocean as well as worldwide. In the past years, a significant increase of salps (Salpa thompsoni) has been noticed in Antarctica. Continuous warming and the accompanied shifts of sea ice cover have been correlated to decreasing krill stocks and increasing salp populations. This correlation, however, is not concluding on a circumpolar scale as salps also increase in areas where so far, no warming trend was observed. The goal of PEKRIS on one hand is to quantify the physiological and genetic traits of krill vs. salps supporting potential adaptation to temperature rise. On the other hand, PEKRIS aims to study the thermal windows of both species in order to predict ensuring optimal functions of physiological processes in their life cycle in accordance to different climate change scenarios by using individual-based models on both species.
Project Leader and Contact
Prof. Dr. Bettina Meyer
Working groups ICBM
Biodiversity and biological processes in polar Oceans
Prof. Dr. R. Costa, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
Prof. Dr. Evgeny Pakhomov (UBC), Canada
Dr. Peter Tiselius, Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, Kristineberg, Sweden
Dr. So Kawaguchi, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania
Prof. Dr. Loyd Peck, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
The project and the financial support is located at the University of Oldenburg
Krill biomass estimation in the Southern Ocean (KrillBIS)
Increasing commercial fishing pressure and uncertain impacts of climate change on Southern Ocean ecosystems have led to rising concerns by member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) about the future of Antarctic krill populations and dependent food web components. In the current situation of changing habitats and elevated anthropogenic pressures, traditional methods of krill biomass estimation are not sufficient to warrant sustainable exploitation. Therefore, CCAMLR is aiming towards an adaptive feedback management for krill, which will incorporate krill biomass estimation at different spatio-temporal scales and in relation to a suite of environmental parameters and under a range of climate scenarios. If climate change indeed represents one of the driving forces of future development of krill populations, which is likely according to recent research, the uncertainty in biomass estimation of Antarctic krill will increase. In this situation, the exploitation of krill stocks will need to be managed much more conservative, as it is currently the case. In contrast, an adaptive feedback management, which can distinguish between impacts of fisheries and environmental factors, will significantly improve sustainable exploitation of krill stocks and subsequently, secure the future of the krill fisheries.
The KrillBIS Project will continue the German contributions to CCAMLR by providing scientific krill biomass estimates and advice the Federal Ministry for Food and Rural Affairs (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft- BMEL) in CCAMLR related affairs. The focus of the work will be the development of a German input to CCAMLR’s feedback management for future regulation of the Antarctic krill fisheries. This scientific work will also provide the basis for BMEL’s decision making in CCAMLR related matters.
Project leader and contact person
Dr. Christian Reiss, NOAAH Fisheries, La Jolla, US
Dr. Olav Rune Godoe, Institute Marine Research (IMR), Bergen, NO
Prof. Dr. Andrew Brierley, University St. Andrews, UK
Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL)
Project and funding is based at AWI