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Award Abstract #0838844

Collaborative Research: Climate Change and Predatory Invasion of the Antarctic Marine Environment

Division Of Polar Programs
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Initial Amendment Date: August 18, 2009
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Latest Amendment Date: August 18, 2009
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Award Number: 0838844
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Diana Nemergut
PLR Division Of Polar Programs
GEO Directorate For Geosciences
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Start Date: September 1, 2009
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End Date: February 28, 2013 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $148,860.00
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ARRA Amount: $148,860.00
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Investigator(s): James McClintock mcclinto@uab.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Alabama at Birmingham
AB 1170
Birmingham, AL 35294-0001 (205)934-5266
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Program Reference Code(s): 0000, 6890, 9150, 9169, EGCH
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Program Element Code(s): 5111


This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

Global climate change is altering polar marine ecosystems through rising temperatures and ocean acidification. Marine communities in Antarctica face an additional threat: climatically driven biological invasions from temperate and subpolar latitudes. Durophagous (skeleton-breaking) crabs from warmer environments are on the verge of invading shallow-benthic habitats, and could significantly impact the endemic shelf fauna and its unique trophic structure. This study will assess the status of crab populations in western Antarctica and their potential to disrupt benthic communities. The Swedish Icebreaker RVIB Oden provides the ideal opportunity to sample areas of the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas, as her ice-capability exceeds that of U.S. research icebreakers. The extent and consequences of the ongoing invasion will be assessed by: (1) sampling the water column for larvae; and (2) surveying the benthos for juveniles and adults, and for localized changes in community structure. An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) will be used to image the bottom fauna, providing density estimates of crabs on the slope and, perhaps, on the shelf, and will provide a rare glimpse of the fauna underneath the ice shelves of the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas. Use of AUVs under ice shelves is highly exploratory and high risk, but the results are potentially transformative.

The study will promote collaboration between scientific teams from the U.S., Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The project also will provide undergraduate and graduate training, include a research component for minority students, promote the advancement of women in scientific careers, and generate curricular materials for K-12 education. Finally the project will generate data on marine invasions, which are urgently needed for long-term tracking of ecological change in Antarctica.


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Aronson, R.B., S. Thatje, J.B. McClintock and K.A. Hughes. "Anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems in Antarctica," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, v.1223, 2011, p. 82.

McClintock, J.B. M.O. Amsler, R.A. Angus, R.C. Challener, J.B. Schram, C.D. Amsler, C.L. Mah, J. Cuce and B.J. Baker. "The Mg-calcite composition of Antarctic echioderms: important implications for predicting the impacts of ocean acidification," Geology, v.119, 2011, p. 457.

Eastman, J.T., M.O. QAmsler, R.B. Aronson, S. Thatje, J.B. McClintock, S.C. Vos, J.W. Kaeli, H. Singh and M. La Mesa.. "Photographic survey of benthos provides insights into the Antarctic fish fauna from the Marguerite Bay slope and the Admundsen Sea," Antarctic Science, v.25, 2013, p. 31-43.


McClintock, J.B., C.D. Amsler and B.J. Baker. "Secondary metabolites of starfish. In: Asteroidea: biology and ecology of starfish. Edited by J.M. Lawrence.", 09/01/2010-08/31/2011,  2012, "Johns Hopkins University Press".

McClintock, J.B., C.D. Amsler and B.J. Baker. "Secondary metabolites of starfish. In: Asteroidea: biology and ecology of starfish. Edited by J.M. Lawrence.", 09/01/2011-08/31/2012,  2012, "Johns Hopkins University Press".

James McClintock. "Lost Antarctica - Adventures in a Disappearing Land", 09/01/2011-08/31/2012,  2012, "Palgrave MacMillan".


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