The effects of aerial microclimate and edaphic conditions on the growth of young vegetative tillers of Phleum alpinum L. from contrasting habitats on South Georgia have been investigated using growth analysis concepts. Relative growth rate (Rw) was found to be negatively correlated with habitat severity, there being a strong relationship between Rw and the amount of lateral production per tiller. Unit leaf rate (EA) was depressed at the highest altitude. Specific leaf area increased with habitat favourability but no simple relationship was apparent between leaf area ratio (FA) and site conditions. Native soils were shown to be severely limiting, although there was considerable variation in edaphic conditions between the various sites. There was striking uniformity in Rw values between plants from different populations when grown under similar conditions, this stabilization effect being produced by compensatory mechanisms involving the contributory growth parameters, EA and FA the specific leaf areas of the different populations when grown at one site were also very similar.
In a sample of reindeer from South Georgia, 4 males were abnormal in that 1 had bilateral cryptorchid testis, 2 each had 1 cryptorchid testis and 1 had a vestigial testis. The antlers of the cryptorchid males were small, but the antler cycle itself was hardly affected.
The scavenging megafauna of the South Georgia and Shag Rocks slope in the south-west Atlantic(625-15 19 m) were investigated using autonomous baited camera systems. Two surveys were conducted: thefirst in 1997 (13 deployments) used a conventional 35 mm stills camera with a 200 J flash, whilst the second in2000 (1 5 deployments) used low-light digital video cameras. The scavenging community responded rapidly tothe arrival of bait on the sea floor and was dominated by stone crabs (Lithodidae) and toothfish (Dissostichuseleginoides). Stone crabs took up residence around the bait until it was consumed, with a maximum number of108 in the field of view after four hours. The most frequently observed crab species was Paralomis formosa.Paralomis spinosissima, Neolithodes diomedea and Lithodes sp., were also observed. Toothfish were the mostfrequently observed scavenging fish and were seen during all but one deployment, typically making brief visits(1-2 min) to the bait, but appeared startled by the flash in the 1997 survey. Labriform swimming (sculling withthe pectoral fins) was the principal form of locomotion in toothfish (0.22 body lengths (BL) sec-I), but they werecapable of more rapid sub-carangiform (using caudal trunk and fin) motion (3 BL sec-I) when startled. Otherscavenging fish observed included the blue-hake Antimora rostrata, grenadiers (Macrourus spp.), skates,liparids and zoarcids.
Nitric oxide, which reacts catalytically to destroy ozone, can be produced in great abundance in the middle atmosphere during energetic particle precipitation triggered by solar storms. During the Antarctic winter, the strong polar vortex can rapidly transport nitric oxide downward, and this process has been identified as a mechanism that can link ozone recovery in,the upper stratosphere with solar activity. As part of the Sun Earth Connection programme at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a new, state-of-the-art microwave radiometer is being developed in collaboration with the MaxPlanck Institute (MPI) and the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) to simultaneously measure profiles of ozone and nitric oxide between 30 and 80 km deep within the Antarctic polar vortex. Operating in the 250 GHz spectral region, the semi-autonomous instrument will be coupled to moderate- and high-resolution chirp spectrometers to provide simultaneous spectra of the nitric oxide and ozone. In addition, a second local oscillator will be used to periodically examine carbon monoxide at 230.538 GHz to infer the vertical descent rate within the Antarctic vortex. Here, we present the science rationale for the observation programme as well as the instrument specifications, design and performance.
We interpret seismic reflection and airborne potential field data acquired on Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica and find variations in the subglacial geology which correlate with variations in ice dynamics. Immediately beneath the glacier is a mixture of soft, deforming sediments and harder, non-deforming sediments. Beneath this, a sedimentary basin lies under part of the main glacier, with another under one of its slower-moving tributaries. A tectonic boundary underlies the main trunk of the glacier separating these sedimentary basins to the north from crystalline rocks to the south, which also include a thick, rift-related magmatic intrusion. The boundary correlates with changes in the basal roughness, ice flow speed, and basal drag. Smoother bed, faster flow, and lower basal drag characterize the thicker sedimentary sequences, to the north, but there is no corresponding lateral change in the acoustic properties of the bed. Changes in the sub-bed (i.e., deeper than the ice-bed interface) lithology appear to account for the contrasting basal drag and ice velocity patterns over the glacier. Subglacial erosion could remove a thin layer of soft sediments to the south of the geological boundary, leading to increased basal drag and reduced ice flow in the future. We conclude that the subglacial geology plays a significant role in controlling the spatial pattern of present-day ice flow and that the consequences of subglacial erosion may be reflected in temporal changes to the ice dynamics in the past and perhaps also in the near future.
Proxy measures of genome-wide heterozygosity based on approximately 10 microsatellites have been used to uncover heterozygosity fitness correlations (HFCs) for a wealth of important fitness traits in natural populations. However, effect sizes are typically very small and the underlying mechanisms remain contentious, as a handful of markers usually provides little power to detect inbreeding. We therefore used restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing to accurately estimate genome-wide heterozygosity, an approach transferrable to any organism. As a proof of concept, we first RAD sequenced oldfield mice (Peromyscus polionotus) from a known pedigree, finding strong concordance between the inbreeding coefficient and heterozygosity measured at 13,198 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). When applied to a natural population of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), a weak HFC for parasite infection based on 27 microsatellites strengthened considerably with 14,585 SNPs, the deviance explained by heterozygosity increasing almost fivefold to a remarkable 49%. These findings arguably provide the strongest evidence to date of an HFC being due to inbreeding depression in a natural population lacking a pedigree. They also suggest that under some circumstances heterozygosity may explain far more variation in fitness than previously envisaged
In the present paper, we compare how the kelp gull, Larus dominicanus, utilizes various nest building materials, particularly vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens and other components, in the Fildes Peninsula area (King George Island) and on the Argentine Islands area. In both areas, nest material primarily consisted of the Antarctic hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica), bryophytes, lichens, feathers, limpets, and algae. Our study reveals area-specific differences in the utilization of plants for nest building related to local conditions during the nesting season. In the Fildes area, vegetation emerges from under the winter snow cover earlier in the spring, giving the gulls greater choice locally, meaning that the gulls need not resort to long distance material transfer. Here, mosses and lichens dominate in the nest material, likely collected from the nearby vegetation formations. The Antarctic hairgrass in these conditions is mostly found in nests located directly within hairgrass formations. However, on the more southern Argentine Islands, kelp gulls routinely use D. antarctica and some mosses, transferring them from coastal hill tops where snow generally disappears earlier. Here, the gulls appear to be selective still, as they rarely use some mosses, such as Polytrichum strictum, that are abundant near the nesting locations. In the Argentine Islands area, we documented long-range transfer of the Antarctic hairgrass and some other vegetation materials from places of abundance to bare rocks of low islands lacking developed vegetation. This demonstrates the potential of the gulls to serve as dispersal and gene pool exchange agents for the local terrestrial biota in the maritime Antarctic, especially between highly isolated populations from small islands and ice-free areas.
ice core, Ross Ice Shelf, West Antarctica. The core adds information on past accumulation changes in an otherwise poorly constrained sector of Antarctica. The timescale was constructed by identifying annual cycles in high-resolution impurity records, and it constitutes the top part of the Roosevelt Island Ice Core Chronology 2017 (RICE17). Validation by volcanic and methane matching to the WD2014 chronology from the WAIS Divide ice core shows that the two timescales are in excellent agreement. In a companion paper, gas matching to WAIS Divide is used to extend the timescale for the deeper part of the core in which annual layers cannot be identified. Based on the annually resolved timescale, we produced a record of past snow accumulation at Roosevelt Island. The accumulation history shows that Roosevelt Island experienced slightly increasing accumulation rates between 700 BCE and 1300 CE, with an average accumulation of 0.25±0.02 m water equivalent (w.e.) per year. Since 1300 CE, trends in the accumulation rate have been consistently negative, with an acceleration in the rate of decline after the mid-17th century. The current accumulation rate at Roosevelt Island is 0.210±0.002 m w.e. yr−1 (average since 1965 CE, ±2σ), and it is rapidly declining with a trend corresponding to 0.8 mm yr−2. The decline observed since the mid-1960s is 8 times faster than the long-term decreasing trend taking place over the previous centuries, with decadal mean accumulation rates consistently being below average. Previous research has shown a strong link between Roosevelt Island accumulation rates and the location and intensity of the Amundsen Sea Low, which has a significant impact on regional sea-ice extent. The decrease in accumulation rates at Roosevelt Island may therefore be explained in terms of a recent strengthening of the ASL and the expansion of sea ice in the eastern Ross Sea. The start of the rapid decrease in RICE accumulation rates observed in 1965 CE may thus mark the onset of significant increases in regional sea-ice extent.
The Weddell Gyre (WG) is one of the main oceanographic features of the Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which plays an influential role in global ocean circulation as well as gas exchange with the atmosphere. We review the state‐of‐the art knowledge concerning the WG from an interdisciplinary perspective, uncovering critical aspects needed to understand this system’s role in shaping the future evolution of oceanic heat and carbon uptake over the next decades. The main limitations in our knowledge are related to the conditions in this extreme and remote environment, where the polar night, very low air temperatures and presence of sea ice year‐round hamper field and remotely sensed measurements. We highlight the importance of winter and under‐ice conditions in the southern WG, the role that new technology will play to overcome present‐day sampling limitations, the importance of the WG connectivity to the low‐latitude oceans and atmosphere, and the expected intensification of the WG circulation as the westerly winds intensify. Greater international cooperation is needed to define key sampling locations that can be visited by any research vessel in the region. Existing transects sampled since the 1980s along the Prime Meridian and along an East‐West section at ~62°S should be maintained with regularity to provide answers to the relevant questions. This approach will provide long‐term data to determine trends and will improve representation of processes for regional, Antarctic‐wide and global modeling efforts – thereby enhancing predictions of the WG in global ocean circulation and climate.
Petermann Fjord is a deep (>1000 m) fjord that incises the coastline of north-west Greenland and was carved by an expanded Petermann Glacier, one of the six largest outlet glaciers draining the modern Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). Between 5 and 70 m of unconsolidated glacigenic material infills in the fjord and adjacent Nares Strait, deposited as the Petermann and Nares Strait ice streams retreated through the area after the Last Glacial Maximum. We have investigated the deglacial deposits using seismic stratigraphic techniques and have correlated our results with high-resolution bathymetric data and core lithofacies. We identify six seismo-acoustic facies in more than 3500 line kilometres of sub-bottom and seismic-reflection profiles throughout the fjord, Hall Basin and Kennedy Channel. Seismo-acoustic facies relate to bedrock or till surfaces (Facies I), subglacial deposition (Facies II), deposition from meltwater plumes and icebergs in quiescent glacimarine conditions (Facies III, IV), deposition at grounded ice margins during stillstands in retreat (grounding-zone wedges; Facies V) and the redeposition of material downslope (Facies IV). These sediment units represent the total volume of glacial sediment delivered to the mapped marine environment during retreat. We calculate a glacial sediment flux for the former Petermann ice stream as 1080–1420 m3 a−1 per metre of ice stream width and an average deglacial erosion rate for the basin of 0.29–0.34 mm a−1. Our deglacial erosion rates are consistent with results from Antarctic Peninsula fjord systems but are several times lower than values for other modern GrIS catchments. This difference is attributed to fact that large volumes of surface water do not access the bed in the Petermann system, and we conclude that glacial erosion is limited to areas overridden by streaming ice in this large outlet glacier setting. Erosion rates are also presented for two phases of ice retreat and confirm that there is significant variation in rates over a glacial–deglacial transition. Our new glacial sediment fluxes and erosion rates show that the Petermann ice stream was approximately as efficient as the palaeo-Jakobshavn Isbræ at eroding, transporting and delivering sediment to its margin during early deglaciation.