Research

Antarctic & Marine Plankton

Ice algae and polar phytoplankton

We investigate environmental controls and impacts on ice algal/polar phytoplankton photosynthesis and productivity. This has included the effects of ocean acidification, dark survival, iron limitation and the ozone hole on these communities. Working in both the field (Arctic and Antarctic) and the laboratory our researchers have been leaders in applying fluorescence and micro sensor technologies to answer key ecological and physiological problems. 

Effects of Ocean acidification and multiple ocean stressors on marine life 

Oceanic conditions are changing due to climate change - our seas are warming, becoming more acidic as they remove 1/3 of the industrial CO2 emissions we pump into the atmosphere. As a consequence of the warming they are also becoming less nutrient rich as more dense warmer waters hinder the resupply of plant nutrients like phosphate.  Just like humans marine life can get stressed out. We are currently assessing how marine life copes with these multiple stresses, which are taking place at the same time.

Harmful algal blooms

Toxic dinoflagellate blooms along the Tasmanian East Coast cause annually recurrent contamination of seafoods, necessitating closures of mussel and oyster farms and even  the rock lobster fishery in 2012 and again 2015. Our researchers are currently working on a project to develop a rapid toxin screen test using a platform similar to the home pregnancy test kit. Ultimate adoption by the Tasmanian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program  will provide an on-site tool to manage seafood harvest,  limiting blanket closures of fisheries, and reducing the risk of unsafe product reaching domestic and export markets.

Zooplankton

We are studying the ecology of zooplankton over a wide area of the Southern Ocean, from Tasmania down to the sea ice. Of particular interest is determining how and where the copepod-fish based food web in more northerly waters transitions to the krill-based food web in the south. We are focusing on understanding how climate change impacts, such as warming sea temperatures and decreasing ice conditions, will alter the base of the food web and subsequent energy flow through the entire ecosystem. Antarctic krill have life cycles that require the presence of persistent and predictable ice conditions, so as sea ice becomes more ephemeral, and krill stocks continue to decline, alternative food webs will start to dominate.

Antarctic krill

Antarctic krill are the primary food source of many Antarctic vertebrates. We undertake research on krill biology and physiology to better understand their role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. We collaborate with the fishery investigating krill oils together with Southern Ocean environmental parameters to measure of the current and future health of krill populations, and in turn the Antarctic ecosystem.

Featured

Researcher Profile
> Prof Andrew McMinn

Title

Professor; Associate Dean Internationalisation

About

Professor McMinn's research has focused on sea ice ecology and environmental change.…

Currently researching

Effects of ocean acidification on Antarctic sea ice algae (AAS)…

View researcher profile >
Researcher Profile
> Prof Philip Boyd

Title

Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry

About

Philip Boyd is Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania.…

Currently researching

Over the last two decades Philip's research has been characterised by international transdisciplinar…

View researcher profile >
Researcher Profile
> Prof Gustaaf Hallegraeff

Title

Professor in Aquatic Botany

About

Professor Hallegraeff is an internationally recognised expert in harmful algal blooms impacting on human health, the fish farm, and shellfish industries, and th…

Currently researching

Understanding fish-killing algal blooms, and development of mitigation strategies (ARC)…

View researcher profile >
Researcher Profile
> Dr Kerrie Swadling

Title

Research Fellow

About

Dr Swadling's field of expertise is the ecology of pelagic invertebrates, with over 20 years' experience working in Southern Ocean and temperate marine ecosyste…

Currently researching

Predicting marine currents, nutrients and plankton in the coastal waters of south eastern Tasmania i…

View researcher profile >
Researcher Profile
> Dr Patti Virtue

Title

Senior Research Fellow

About

Dr Patti Virtue is a senior research fellow at IMAS. Her research interests cover aspects of biological oceanography, sea ice ecology, and zooplankton (krill) r…

Currently researching

Patti currently leads a research project funded by ARC together with the krill fishing industry - Ak…

View researcher profile >
Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
October 30, 2015