Prosperity and limitation of sponge fauna on the former ice-shelf Larsen A-B and adjacent areas west of the Antarctic Peninsula
Privatdozentin Dr. Dorte Janussen
Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum
Abteilung Marine Zoologie
Regional warming observed at the Antarctic Peninsula since the 1950ies caused a collapse of the Larsen AB ice-shelves in 1995, respectively 2002. The ecological impact of these events is studied by multidisciplinary scientific teams on several Antarctic expeditions (2007, 2011 and 2013) to track and monitor the ongoing oceanographic and ecological dynamic changes. Sponges play a key role in the bentho-pelagic coupling and as hosts for other organisms. The here proposed research project is designed to analyze the impact of climate change on the diversity of Porifera within the Antarctic shelf communities and their response to the disintegration of permanent ice-shelves. Detailed faunistic comparisons will be done between the sponge faunas from the repeated stations of the tree expeditions and between the Larsen ACB area and reference stations. Assumed speciation processes and colonization of the Larsen shelves by pioneer and deep-sea sponge taxa will be tested by comparative morphological and molecular methods as well as parallel investigations of the sponge infauna. Ecological successions are detected by systematic and quantitative evaluation of ROV transsects, and we further target the reconstruction of sponge biomasses and silica content in the Antarctic “sponge gardens”. This project will bring important hints to future ecological developments due to ongoing disintegration of the Antarctic ice-shelves.
DFG Programme: Infrastructure Priority Programmes
Term from 2012 to 2016