Antarctic marine diatoms are sensitive to environment change. This project will determine the environmental niches occupied by key diatom species in Antarctic sediments. This will allow climate changes in the past to be interpreted from Holocene sediments and future changes in diatom biogeography to be predicted.
Environmental manipulation and competition experiments using diatoms will identify the response of key taxa to environment modification. Understanding the environmental factors governing their distribution and natural variability will provide a basis to interpret palaeo-environment records, and allow predictions how this temperature-sensitive ecosystem will respond to future change.
Diatoms for the experiments were collected in 2002 (Aurora Australia, Voyage 1) and 2003 (Aurora Australis, Voyage 1). On each occasion water from the ship's online seawater tap was filtered through a 20 micrometre plankton net for up to one hour into a sample jar. A portion of the sample was preserved in lugol's iodine for later phytoplankton analysis, and the rest of the sample maintained alive in the dark in seawater at a constant low temperature. The live sample is maintained at the AAD for culturing and environment manipulation and competition experiments.
Twenty-two water samples were collected from 24/10/02 to 11/11/02, in open seawater between 53 degrees 50 degrees S and 65 degrees 50 degrees S. At each site, the following were recorded from the ship's data logger: latitude, longitude, date, UCT time, local time, water depth, salinity, water temperature, chlorophyll A, UV radiation, and conductivity.