Structure and Dynamics of the Southern Ocean Ecosystem, Higher Predator Studies (1972-)

Data set information

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Data holding centreBritish Antarctic Survey
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time periodFrom 1972 onwards
Geographical area

Southern Ocean focused around South Georgia and the Falkland Islands


Bird counts; Bird taxonomy-related abundance per unit area of surface; Fish abundance in water bodies; Fish taxonomy-related counts; Fish non taxonomy-related abundance per unit volume of the water column; Seal abundance; Zooplankton growth rates; Zooplankton reproduction rate parameters; Seal mortality; Zooplankton taxonomy-related abundance per unit volume of the water column; Zooplankton non taxonomy-related abundance per unit volume of the water column; Zooplankton egg hatch proportion


The overall science theme of the Marine Life Sciences Division of the British Antarctic Survey is the Structure and Dynamics of the Southern Ocean Ecosystem. Understanding the structure and dynamics of this ecosystem is a particularly urgent requirement given that it is probably a major sink for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and that its living resources are already being exploited. The Southern Ocean has a history of uncontrolled exploitation, first of fur seals and then whales. Several nations are now exploiting intermediate levels of the food web (krill, squid and fish). Until there is a quantitative understanding of the major energy pathways and principal interactions between components it will be impossible to use living resources wisely and conserve the ecosystem. The Higher Predator Studies programme focuses on birds and seals, which are major top predators within the Southern Ocean food web. Energy flux is being determined for key species in relation to prey, which are also important to man: krill, fish and squid. This involves research on energy and activity budgets of free-ranging pelagic birds and mammals. Causes of population change in seabird and seal species are being investigated by measuring fecundity and mortality rates, including in relation to the effects of age and experience and the availability of resources, notably food and space. Current areas of research include: population dynamics, reproductive performance and energetics and feeding ecology. A wide variety of data have been collected in support of this programme and data collection dates back to 1972, with some data back to the 1950's and 1960's. A database has been developed to hold population details and associated information. Software has been developed to store, manipulate and plot data, including tracks from satellite telemetry.

OriginatorsBritish Antarctic Survey
OrganisationBritish Antarctic Survey
AvailabilityBy negotiation
ContactAEDC Manager

British Antarctic Survey
High Cross Madingley Road

United Kingdom

Telephone+44 1223 251400
Collating centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
Local identifier1046002
Global identifier624
Last revised2009-10-19