Pedro ARAÚJO Investigador Principal, MARE - Centro de Ciências do Mar e do Ambiente
projetoCEPH 2013 IP: José Xavier, Institute of Marine Research (IMAR) – University of Coimbra
Cephalopods play a key role in the food web of the Southern Ocean, being part of the diet of numerous predators, including penguins, seals, albatrosses and whales (Xavier and Cherel 2009). However, most knowledge of these cephalopods still originates largely from analysis of stomach contents collected from their predators, because methods for direct sampling at sea are inefficient (Xavier et al. 2007).
There is a huge demand for information on biology and ecology of cephalopods, particularly needed to be incorporated into modeling food web dynamics (Murphy and Hoffman 2012). In order to understand the habitat and trophic level of cephalopods, the signatures of stable isotopes of the beaks of cephalopods, obtained from the stomach contents of top predators, can be analysed (e.g. Cherel and Hobson 2005).
In this study in 2014, we aim to analyse the rest of the samples of the cephalopod component of the diet of wandering albatrosses breeding in Antipodes, Adams and Campbell Islands, south of New Zealand, work that has never been carried out before, in order to: 1- describe the diet of wandering albatrosses from these islands, 2- collect cephalopod beaks of the most important species for stable isotopes, whose information will be used for Southern Ocean food web modeling in relation to different climate change scenarios , 3- characterize the cephalopod fauna of the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean.
This project has various advantages, and whose timing is ideal. Firstly, this is a new collaboration between Portugal and New Zealand Antarctic team, including also UK and France. Secondly, there is no need for logistics, as New Zealand will provide all the logistics necessary to collect the samples. Thirdly, this work will complement the work already initiated with UK (samples were already collected from the Atlantic Sector of the Southern Ocean) and France (samples from the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean), allowing for the first time to compare different populations of cephalopods across the three different sectors of the Southern Ocean. Finally, this work will allow our Portuguese team to lead this field, following the work developed by Xavier and Cherel (2009).
The information on the feeding ecology of wandering albatrosses and about the cephalopod fauna of the Southern Ocean is vital to parameterise consumption models developed by the international program ICED (Integrating climate into ecosystem dynamics of the Southern Ocean), whose José Xavier is member of the Scientific Steering committee), SCAR - EGBAMM (Expert group on Birds and Marine Mammals of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) and the new SCAR Life Sciences program Ant-ERA (in which José Xavier is the team leader of the sub-theme on Trophic interactions, bringing together 15 leading Antarctic scientists from 10 countries). This international and interdisciplinary project, bringing together scientists from Portugal, New Zealand, UK and France aims to characterize the cephalopod fauna of the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean by assessing the feeding ecology of wandering albatrosses breeding in Antipodes, Adams and Campbell islands.