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Division of Polar Programs

Charles Amsler
camsler@nsf.gov, (703) 292-2461


13-527  Program Solicitation

The goal of the Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program is to improve understanding of organisms and their interactions within the biosphere and geosphere. The program supports projects directed at all levels of biological organization from molecular, cellular, and organismal, to communities and ecosystems up to regional and global scales. Investigators are encouraged to develop and apply theory and innovative technologies to understand how organisms adapt to and live in high-latitude environments and how populations and ecosystems may respond to global change. Particular emphases include:

  • Marine ecosystems. Polar marine environments are characterized by complex interactions among biotic, chemical and physical processes, in areas that include the marginal ice-zone, continental shelves, polynyas, and open-ocean systems. Topics include interactions among trophic levels, factors influencing primary and secondary production, and the ecological role of organisms in biogeochemical cycling. Remote sensing techniques, long-term observations, and modeling are appropriate tools to enhance this area of research.

  • Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Organisms in ice-free areas, in ephemeral streams, and in perennially ice-covered lakes show remarkable persistence in the face of harsh conditions. Research on adaptive mechanisms, in the context of the present day hydrologic and biogeochemical environment, is encouraged. The McMurdo Dry Valleys of southern Victoria Land are of particular interest due to the large body of data available through ongoing research programs, including the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, but other locations can be proposed. Research in support of future field exploration of subglacial lakes is also considered.

  • Population dynamics, physiological ecology, and adaptation. The extremes of light, temperature, and moisture have resulted in unusual adaptations within organisms at all levels of organization. Research concerning metabolic, physiological, and behavioral adaptations of marine and terrestrial organisms, their population dynamics, and their diversity, is encouraged. Of special interest are processes occurring during the austral winter. Long-term observations are also supported, with the goal of understanding the impact of environmental change on organismic and ecological processes.

  • Genomics. "Genome-enabled" biology provides a foundation for understanding the genetic basis of organism-environment interactions. The unusual antarctic environment presents a compelling natural laboratory for the study of environmental genomics. A National Research Council report, Frontiers in Polar Biology in the Genomics Era, addresses some of these opportunities.

Frontiers in Polar Biology in the Genomic Era
U.S. Southern Ocean GLOBEC program
U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC) program
Penguin Science
International Graduate Training Course in Antarctic Biology
Report from the Oden Southern Ocean Workshop, February 10-13, 2208

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