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Award Abstract #0944747

COLLABORATIVE: Benthic-pelagic coupling in an intact ecosystem: the role of top predators in McMurdo Sound

NSF Org: PLR
Division Of Polar Programs
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Initial Amendment Date: September 16, 2010
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Latest Amendment Date: May 13, 2014
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Award Number: 0944747
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Christian Fritsen
PLR Division Of Polar Programs
GEO Directorate For Geosciences
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Start Date: June 1, 2011
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End Date: November 30, 2016 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $635,794.00
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Investigator(s): Stacy Kim skim@mlml.calstate.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: San Jose State University Foundation
210 North Fourth Street
San Jose, CA 95112-5569 (408)924-1400
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NSF Program(s): ANTARCTIC ORGANISMS & ECOSYST
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Program Reference Code(s): 8013, 9169, EGCH
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Program Element Code(s): 5111

ABSTRACT

The research project will investigate the importance of top down forcing on pelagic food webs. The relatively pristine Ross Sea includes large populations of upper-level predators such as minke and killer whales, Adélie and Emperor penguins, and Antarctic toothfish. This project will focus on food web interactions Adélie penguins, minke whales, and the fish-eating Ross Sea killer whales, all of which exert foraging pressure on their main prey, crystal krill (Euphausia cyrstallorophias) and silver fish (Pleuragramma antarcticum) in McMurdo Sound. The research will employ an unusual experimental design, taking advantage of the opening of channel to resupply McMurdo Station to study 'before' (no predator access) and 'after' (predator access) impacts on prey distributions and ecological processes. The investigators will use video- and acoustic-capable ROVs with environmental sensors to quantify the abundance and distribution of prey and prey food resources, and satellite tags and helicopter surveys to study predator foraging and movements. Additional measurements will track the redistribution of organic materials as a function of changing predator and prey behavior and activity, allowing downstream quantification of top predator effects on energy flow. This study will be among the first to assess top-down forcing in the Ross Sea ecosystemand will form the basis for a multidisciplinary studies in the future. to a multi-disciplinary investigation. The relevance of this work will be communicated to scientists, students and the public via publications, participation in scientific conferences, involvement of graduate and undergraduate students in field and lab work as part of thesis and capstone projects, and interactions with K-12 classes and clubs. Engineering and ROV work will be incorporated into ongoing mentoring programs with universities, community colleges, and high schools.

 

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