Structure and Dynamics of the Southern Ocean Ecosystem, Ecological And Physiological Adaptations (1962-)

Data set information

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Data holding centreBritish Antarctic Survey
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time periodFrom 1962 onwards
Geographical area

Southern Ocean - Signy Island, South Orkney Islands


Zooplankton and zoobenthos morphological parameters; Chlorophyll pigment concentrations in water bodies; Fish morphology, age and physiology; Fish abundance in water bodies; Fish taxonomy-related counts; Fish non taxonomy-related abundance per unit volume of the water column; Zooplankton growth rates; Zooplankton reproduction rate parameters; Nitrate concentration parameters in the water column; Phosphate concentration parameters in the water column; Zooplankton taxonomy-related abundance per unit volume of the water column; Zooplankton non taxonomy-related abundance per unit volume of the water column; Snow and ice mass, thickness and extent; Zooplankton and zoobenthos development stage parameters; Total dissolved inorganic carbon (TCO2) concentration in the water column; Silicate concentration parameters in the water column


Nutrient analysers; plankton nets; pelagic trawl nets; dissolved gas sensors; snow and ice samplers


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 combination of a stable low temperature and an intensely seasonal pattern of production is peculiar to the high latitudes, and particularly the nearshore marine environment of the Southern Ocean. This forms a unique natural laboratory which allows the investigator to distinguish in a fundamental way the differing effects of temperature and food supply on the ecology and evolution of organisms. Ecological and physiological studies of Southern Ocean marine organisms are carried out at the BAS research station at Signy Island, where research can continue year round, allowing a full seasonal picture to be obtained for many processes. This forms a vital complement to the Pelagic Ecosystem Studies Programme where logistic considerations limit research to biennial, and predominantly summer cruises. Current areas of research include: seasonal environmental change, physiology and ecology. Ecological investigations are run in parallel with measurements of the physical environment to enhance understanding of growth, reproduction and nutrient storage patterns. A wide variety of data have been collected in support of this programme and data collection dates back to 1962, with sea-ice data back to 1947. Seasonal change data include long-term records of fast-ice duration and thickness, and chlorophyll concentration, including size fractionation.

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 identifier1046003
Global identifier625
Last revised2009-10-19