The Spanish Polar Programme are currently organizing a multidisciplinary, international sampling season at Byers Peninsula (Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica) for austral summer 2008/09. This call is open to all scientists who may be interested in doing field research at this site, or in working with samples collected from terrestrial, freshwater and marine coastal environments of this region. The proposed investigations should be within one or more the following themes:
1. Global climate change
2. UV radiation effects
3. Antarctic biodiversity and community ecology
4. Environmental assessment of science and tourist activities
5. Palaeoecological studies
Byers Peninsula is Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) Number 126 because of the special scientific interest in this region for non-marine and coastal research, notably freshwater ecology and landscape studies. It is one of the largest ice-free areas in the Antarctic Peninsula region, with 60 km2 of catchments that are free of ice in summer, with many interesting abiotic and biological features. There are more than 100 waterbodies of different sizes and characteristics. It is particularly rich in wetland areas with extensive microbial mats and moss carpets. The vegetation is relatively profuse for the south polar region, with extensive coastal stands of the two Antarctic vascular plants (Colobanthus quitensis and Deschampsia antarctica), and one of the most diverse lichen and moss flora in Antarctica. The non-marine animals are represented by the two insects that occur in Antarctica, Parochlus steinenii and Belgica antarctica. The aquatic ecosystems contain other invertebrates such as freshwater oligochaeta and cladocera. The microbial diversity might be also large, but has been little investigated apart from cyanobacterial diversity in the microbial mats. The Byers Peninsula has the most extensive beaches in Antarctica, with rich populations of seaweeds and associated marine life. It is also a hotspot for marine vertebrates, with several species of marine mammals that reproduce there (well known is the sea-elephant colony) and a large number of birds, including a colony of gentoo penguins (more details on this can be found at http://www.scar.org/publications/bulletins/150/aspa126/ ). The region has many geological and hydrological features of interest including permafrost and a number of periglacial features. The site is pristine and is only open to visits by small numbers of scientists at a time, with stringent environmental protection measures.
Our research group has been working in Byers Peninsula since 2000 in the programme LIMNOPOLAR, which aims to describe the non-marine aquatic ecosystems of the region and compare them with other sites in the south and north Polar Regions. We have background data on meteorological conditions from an AWS that was installed in 2000, and on biological and environmental characteristics of lakes, streams and wetlands in the region (see for example: Toro et al. (2007) Polar Biology, 30: 635-639). Several geological articles have been published on the region.
Our currently supported logistics are for a long season during IPY, beginning November 2008 and finishing in March 2009. The Spanish Polar Programme will provide transportation by ship from Ushuaia, Punta Arenas or King George Island to the site. There, a non-permanent camp installed in the Southern Beaches, consisting of two portable laboratories, and tents for accommodation will be available. The Spanish Polar Programme will also provide infrastructure (power, communications, food and water) and some scientific equipment for lake and streams sampling, including epifluorescence microscopes, a microelectrode system, multiparametric water probes, and basic gear for limnological sampling. The Spanish Polar Programme will not provide funds for research (such as personnel costs, equipment and consummables) nor funds for travelling from the home institution to boarding sites (Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; King George Island, Antarctica). Personal items (e.g. cold weather clothing) will not be provided, with the exception of sleeping gear.
The space at Byers Camp will be limited at any one time to a maximum of 6 scientists plus one logistics assistant (the latter hired by the Spanish Polar Programme). We intend to organize the scientists in periods of about 3 weeks in the field, in the way allowing a total of 30 scientists to conduct research in the region. This constraint on research visits is in keeping with the ASPA status of the region, and to restrict any human impacts to less than minor and transitory as required by our permits under the terms of the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty.
The Spanish Polar Programme has organized an IPY Byers Steering Committee that will evaluate all proposals to visit the area or to work on samples obtained by other scientists from the area. The committee will try to accommodate a full range of proposals included in one of the 5 themes above, with consideration of:
- scientific quality
- environmental impact
The expression of interest (maximum of 2 pages, including references; plus 1-page abridged CV for each primary applicant) should be forwarded by Email by September 1st 2007 stating:
- time period chosen (from November 2008 to end of February 2009) and duration requested (a maximum of three weeks per scientist)
- theme in which it should be considered
- scientific description of the proposed study, including a brief description of methods and significance of the research
Please send your expression of interest by email to:
Dr. Antonio Quesada
Chair, IPY Byers Steering Committee
Address: Departamento de Biologia C/Darwin, 2. Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain. Tel. 34-914978181, Fax. 34-914978344
What is IPY
Tuesday, 07 August 2007 21:38
Call for Expressions of Intent: International Polar Year at Byers Peninsula, maritime AntarcticaWritten by Nicola Munro
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