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Biodiversity of the Ross Sea (BioRoss)
 

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Overall objective
BioRoss is aimed at improving our understanding and knowledge of the biodiversity of the Ross Sea region.

Rationale
New Zealand has a strong historical association with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, and the region's importance to New Zealand is widely acknowledged. There is a degree of urgency in building our knowledge about this marine environment and its rich biological resources, as it comes under pressure from increased human activities in the area. This knowledge will help improve management of the region and support the development of a network of protected marine areas. This programme of research requires a high degree of co-ordination between New Zealand government agencies and international research organisations with an interest in the Ross Sea.

Current projects

  • In early 2006, two biodiversity projects were carried out in Antarctic waters: the first project (ZBD2005/01) involved the use of a purpose built research yacht ‘ Tiama ' that carried biologists and divers to investigate the marine fauna close inshore at the Balleny Islands. New information was collected from the shallows to contribute to the case for a protected area to be instated around the Balleny Islands that is under development by New Zealand. You can view the Voyage Report (PDF 518K) from this project. The second project (ZBD2005/03) took advantage of a leveraging opportunity on a LINZ Oceans 20/20 voyage aboard R.V. Tangaroa primarily in the eastern Ross Sea. Plankton samples, water samples, marine mammal and seabird records were made throughout the voyage, and photographs of marine biodiversity on the seabed were taken opportunistically. Seabed photographs and samples were also collected from Scott Island and the Balleny Islands. The Voyage Report from this project is available from MFish.
  • An Antarctic marine research survey, Ross Sea 2004, was undertaken in early 2004 (ZBD2003/02 and ZBD2003/03). You can view a Marine Biodiversity Biosecurity Report (PDF 441K) from the coastal benthic studies along the North West Ross Sea. You can get a Voyage Report from the deepwater invertebrate and fish biodiversity of the North West Ross Sea from MFish. The Ministry of Fisheries funded the New Zealand research through the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy programme “BioRoss”, in cooperation with the Italian Antarctic Research Programme, and Land Information New Zealand, which funded mapping research. The Ross Sea 2004 survey, will improve understanding and knowledge of the biodiversity of the Ross Sea , and the ability to effectively manage human activities in the region. The survey will also provide scientific information to support New Zealand 's efforts to establish a protected area around, and including, the Balleny Islands archipelago. Another benefit will be valuable baseline biodiversity information for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). See page 1-3 of ‘the Bite' Autumn 2004.
  • Antarctica New Zealand (AntNZ) is assisting MFish with research planning and communications with both New Zealand and international scientists with an interest in the Southern Ocean and the Ross Sea (ZBD2001/01).

Progress

  • During the 2001/02 Antarctic season, NIWA researchers studied the ecology and biodiversity of coastal benthic communities in McMurdo Sound. See page 1-3 of the Autumn 2003 copy of 'the Bite' (ZBD2001/03). This project is now complete.
  • The above project was followed up in 2002 (ZBD2002/01) with the study of two further sites in McMurdo Sound , Dunlop Island and Spike Cape. The NIWA team also resampled sites at New Harbour and Cape Evans to look at temporal change in biodiversity and community composition.
  • The second project funded in 2002 had as its objective to describe the diversity of invertebrate and fish larvae of the Ross Sea planktonic community using morphology, and to use molecular identification to assign these larval forms to particular species. (ZBD2002/02).
  • Researchers at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) reviewed existing information on the biodiversity of the Ross Sea and the Balleny Islands and made recommendations for future biodiversity research (ZBD2000/01 May 2002, September 2002). This project is complete.
  • Opportunistic sampling of biodiversity of the Western Ross Sea from the RV Tangaroa, during a 41-day seafloor-mapping survey by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). Videos and sampling methods led to the identification of many large seafloor dwelling organisms, some new to science (ZBD 2000/02). This project is complete.
  • The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa was contracted to identify and store Antarctic fish caught in research trawls on commercial fishing trips during 1999/2000 (ZBD2000/09). This project is complete.
  • During the 2001/02 Antarctic season, NIWA researchers studied the ecology and biodiversity of coastal benthic communities in McMurdo Sound (ZBD2001/03).
  • A report on the values of the Balleny Islands, Antarctica was published in 2005 as a Marine Biodiversity Biosecurity Report 7.

 

Final Research Reports

Administrative Documents

Ministry of Fisheries BioRoss Medium Term Research Plan (PDF 96KB)

(You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the PDF files; it's available to download for free. It may take a while to download.)

Last revised: 08/09/2006



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