Stony Brook University - Marine Sciences Research Center
Joseph D. Warren
Clouds rolling over glacier at Ezcura Project Description

This project seeks to determine the causes, both biological and physical, that produce the areas of high krill abundance around Livingston Island, an island in the South Sheltlands just northwest of the Antarctic Peninsula. Research cruises are taken annually (2005-2007) during January and February to study the krill ecosystem. The project PIs are Joseph Warren (Stony Brook University) and David Demer (Southwest Fisheries Science Center). We collaborate with many other scientists in this project. This project is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs and by NOAA's Antarctic Ecosystem Resource Division led by Dr. Rennie Holt.
Antarctic Krill Ecosystem

Antarctic krill are small crustaceans which are a key component of the Antarctic ecosystem. Almost every higher trophic-level predator in Antarctica relies (almost exclusively in many cases) on krill as their food source. These predators include: sea birds (petrels, albatross), penguins, fur seals, and baleen whales (fin, minke, humpback). Some of these predators also rely on squid and small fish as part of their diets.

The krill rely on phytoplankton for their energy needs. Phytoplankton occur all throughout the Southern ocean, however their abundance depends on many different factors: amount of light, amount of ice cover, water movement, and nutrient availability. 
Krill collected in a net during our cruise.

Krill fresh from a net tow during the 2006 research cruise. Photo by Lara.
The RV Ernest and Yuzhmo.
The RVs Ernest (foreground) and Yuzhmorgeologiya (background) during the LINKES experiment. Photo by Martin.
AMLR's Scotian Sea Krill Survey

One aspect of the United States Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) program is an annual survey of the Scotian Sea krill stocks. The US AMLR program is administered by the Antarctic Ecosystem Resource Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA. They undertake an annual study of this area which consists of a broad scale survey grid (covering roughly  54 to 63 W and 60 to 63 S). The AMLR research program uses multiple frequency acoustics, net tows, predator observers, phytoplankton measurements, and hydrographic profiles in order to assess the abundance, distribution, variability, and other aspects of the Antarctic krill ecosystem in this area. The 2006 survey marks the 20th anniversary of the AMLR research cruises making it one of the longer oceanographic ecological surveys in the Southern ocean. The LINKES project grew out of research initially conducted during the AMLR cruises in 2000, 2002 ( small boat and buoys ), and 2004 (report not yet online).
Livingston Island

In addition to the research cruises, the US AMLR program (in conjunction with the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs) supports several field camps on the South Shetland Islands which house researchers studying penguin and fur seal populations. Livingston Island is home to the Cape Shirreff field camp where 4-6 researchers live for 5 months each year. The Cape Shirreff field camp is led by Drs. Rennie Holt, Mike Goebel, and Wayne Trivelpiece. The camps (and their personnel) generously provide our small boat researchers accommodations during our nearshore survey. The nearshore survey would not be possible without the support of the field camp personnel which we are extremely grateful for. In addition to living with the camp personnel, we work with them on research questions as our data sets and methods are often complementary. Also, Dr. Rennie Holt makes the best homemade ice cream in Antarctica!

Our tent on Livingston Island. Our tent on Livingston Island. Photo by Martin.