University of Otago
The goal of this project is to test whether sea ice microbial communities are an important source of organic material supporting marine communities in the Ross Sea, including important prey for seals and penguins.
We will use bulk and compound specific isotopic composition of organic matter sources to trace their contribution to consumers across spatial gradients corresponding to different sea ice extent and persistence. This will be extended to a systems level modelling approach to understand organic matter flux in the Ross Sea marine community.
The project addresses an important unknown for Antarctic communities: the connectivity between primary production within sea ice and availability of organic material for benthic consumers. It will provide new understanding of the role of sea ice for ecosystem functioning in Antarctica.