|K068: Effects of Climate Change on Antarctic Marine Invertebrate Embryo and Larval Physiology|
University of Otago
What we do: We are investigating the impact of UV-R on the planktonic larval stage of Sterechinus neumayeri, a species of sea urchin that is found throughout Antarctic shallow waters. Operating from Scott Base, our research involves diving under the sea ice to deploy optical instruments that measure the amount of UV-R penetrating the sea ice and water column. At the same time, we are rearing Sterechinus larvae in the laboratory for later transplantation under the ice on specially designed racks suspended at different depths. The racks have various UV-filters that allow us to quantify any harmful effects of UV-R under the sea ice. Larvae are also exposed to artificial UV-R in the laboratory to quantify specific effects of UV on development.
Some things we've found out so far: Initial results strongly indicate that this assumption is incorrect, and larval stages of Antarctic marine species might be impacted. This is particularly important given the increase in UV-R over the Antarctic continent when the ozone hole is present, and its likely continuation for the next 25 years. The spring ozone hole over Antarctica results in an increase in the more biologically damaging UV-radiation called UV-B, which is also responsible for skin cancer in humans.
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