Start date:
End date:
Upper and Lower Wright Valley
Principle Investigator:
Ian Hawes
University of Canterbury/NIWA
Christchurch, New Zealand
This programme takes a multi-disciplinary approach to assess the sensitivity of inland aquatic habitats to incremental and discontinuous change. This research will enable environmental management of Antarctic systems to proceed with knowledge of how things are likely to change, which environments are likely to be most sensitive to change, and which areas need to be prioritised for protection. We will identify and categorise the range of aquatic ecosystems within the Ross Sea sector and elucidate the mechanisms by which they are connected, together with their vulnerability to environmental change. We will focus on three contrasting types of water body that allow us to address the scope of these problems and take advantage of the strong international collaborative links in our existing programme. These are (a) glacially-associated, ice-based meltwaters that are some of the most ubiquitous and diverse aquatic habitats in Antarctica, for which there is little comprehensive biological information; (b) rock-based meltwater ponds that are common and significant biodiversity elements in continental Antarctic landscapes and (c) the large Dry Valley lakes that are specific, highly valued features of the Ross Sea Region.