Biodiversity Voyage

New Zealand’s Antarctic Science Platform is planning an ambitious ship-based expedition in early 2022 to undertake extensive sampling of shallow benthic marine communities in Antarctica’s Northern Victoria Land. We are seeking funding partners and international collaborators to make this voyage a reality.

Exploring Antarctica’s Coastal Biodiversity

Voyage Science

Our sea voyage is dedicated to revealing the undersea biodiversity and biogeography of Antarctica’s nearshore coastal ecosystems.

The voyage science is designed to:

  • relate spatial distribution of species, to environmental characteristics (from in situ and remote sensed data), and connectivity, including the extent to which populations of organisms are isolated by ice and other features of Antarctica’s extreme environment
  • establish a baseline of coastal biodiversity and ecosystem function and trophic interactions, and
  • use links between environmental conditions and the distribution of marine organisms to determine how vulnerable these Antarctic biota are to the changes anticipated for this region.

Activities include state of the art research techniques, including isotopic analysis, genescaping, eDNA, machine-learning approaches to habitat and community classification, gathering of key environmental measurements, and deployment of ROVs, camera sleds and ocean gliders. While coastal biodiversity is a focus of the voyage, access to the coastal environment and optimal use of vessel time in the region, means we’ll also collect physical data to enhance aligned research.

Research Themes:

Primary themes: Regional Biodiversity

Theme 1 - Spatial Patterns in Nearshore Benthic Biodiversity
Characterising benthic communities (species distributions, community and habitat structure) at multiple sites within a series of study locations.

Theme 2 - Spatial Patterns in Benthic Processes
Determining functional attributes of benthic communities with a focus on food web dynamics and the relative importance of different nutrient and carbon pathways at the various locations and sites.

Theme 3 - Genetic Structures and Connectivity in Coastal Communities
Using genetic variability to understand links within-population diversity and inter-population connectivity.

Theme 4 – Environmental Setting and Underway Sampling
Gathering contextual information for Northern Victoria Land, including chemical and physical sampling of water, sediments and the atmosphere.

Secondary themes: Aligned and opportunity research

Theme 5 – Oceanography
Characterising water mass and biophysical conditions using oceanographic sensors .

Theme 6 - Top Predators
Developing remote sensing methodologies for the distribution and population size of pack-ice seals.

Theme 7 – Paleoecology
Collection of shallow marine sediment cores for reconstructing historical sea ice extent and biological shifts.

Contact us for more information.

ASP small Cruise Large

Map of the Ross Sea and Northern Victoria Land, including proposed voyage route.