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Auburn researchers make return trip to study biodiversity in Antarctica



A Blake Trawl was used to collect specimens, which deploys a net that drags along the ocean floor, scooping up anything in its path, including mud and ice. Here, researchers use hoses to wash away debris. Pictured is Andrew Mahon (Central Michigan University), Matt Galaska (doctoral student, Auburn University) and Cheps Sand (British Antarctic Survey).

A group of Auburn University scientists studying the biology of marine invertebrate animals will board the ship ASRV Laurence M. Gould and embark on a four-week voyage through Antarctic waters. During the cruise the team, led by College of Sciences and Mathematics professor Ken Halanych, will examine invertebrates living in some of the most remote, but fastest changing, seas on the planet. The team will explore biogeographic patterns in the Bellingshausen, Amundsen and Ross Seas. Once they return, genomic and morphological tools will be used to assess unrecognized genetic variation and patterns of relatedness between populations of marine Antarctic species.

The team has created a website for others to follow their journey and plans to post daily blog updates. You can also follow them on Twitter @Icy_Inverts_AU.

This expedition to Antarctica is the second this year Halanych has led. On Nov. 20, 2013, the team announced a new scientific discovery from their January 2013 trip. You can read about that here.

Lab Work

When not sleeping or collecting, live specimens are brought to the ship's lab and identified and preserved for future work. The effort is carried out with a team of researchers focusing on different tasks. Those on the microscopes in the foreground are sorting and identifying planktonic larvae. Others in the background are sorting and preserving larger organisms.

Auburn Flag

Auburn researchers pause for a photo at the southernmost point on the planet. Behind them is the Ross Sea Ice Shelf, which is about 60 to 80 feet tall. Pictured from left is, (front row) Kevin Kocot, Ken Halanych, Pam Brannock, Joie Cannon, David Weese (back row) Matt Galaska, Alex Medved and David Branson.

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Last Updated: Nov. 20, 2013

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