Research


Bibliography

Cañadas, A., Desportes G., and Borchers D. (2004). The estimation of the detection function and g (0) for short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), using double-platform data collected during the NASS-95 Faroese survey. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 6.2: 191-198.

Tezanos Pinto G., and Baker C.S. (2012). Short-term reactions and long-term responses o bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) to remote biopsy sampling. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 46: 13-29.


SAERI’s aim is to coordinate and increase the volume and impact of environmental science in the region by establishing the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the UK South Atlantic Overseas Territories as international research platforms. There is already considerable environmental research activity associated with the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Presenting a singular and coordinated research focus is creating a more attractive proposition for international collaborators and providers of research funding. The Establishment of SAERI provides an opportunity to define this focus and invest in key areas which will improve the local research facilities and network.

The South Atlantic offers unique and exciting research opportunities. SAERI welcomes research proposals and collaboration from scientists and students wishing to undertake research in the Environmental Sciences in the South Atlantic. Please contact us for further information.


UK OTs in the South Atlantic


 

Fisheries

The Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department has the dual mission of fisheries management, including patrol and compliance, and applied research on the exploited stocks of the inner and outer conservation zones of the Islands. Applied research is devoted to stock assessment, population dynamics and life cycle biology of the exploited species in support of management of the stocks.

Since its inception the fishery has generally been dominated by two species of squid, Illex argentinus and Doryteuthis gahi (known as Loligo) which are fast growing and short lived - spawning once and dying at the end of one year. Stock size of such species is highly variable and driven by environmental variability as well as the effects of exploitation so they need different assessment and management methods from the fin fish stocks. The exploited fin-fish fisheries in approximate order of landings include rock cod, hoki, hakes, blue whiting, rays, red cod, kingclip and Patagonian toothfish plus small quantities of other species. The fin-fish stocks are assessed by bottom trawl surveys. Two surveys are usually carried out each year by a commercial trawler (converted for research) which is available for a total of 42 days per year. CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) drops are made at the location of each trawl.

Fisheries research is an interdisciplinary science encompassing among other areas biology, ecology, oceanography, climate, statistics, modelling, economics and sociology. The FI Fisheries Department carries out essential research for management of the fishery but is limited in its scope by virtue of its small scale. SAERI provides the opportunity for the FI Fisheries Department science programme to contribute to, and benefit from, integrative research that would lead to understanding of the impact of climate change on living marine resources in the FI Conservation Zones, on ecosystem based fishery management (EBFM) and on fishery forecasting – especially of the short-lived squid resources.

The South Georgia fishery is licensed and managed by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) who commission research by the British Antarctic Survey based at King Edward Point and stock assessment by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS - http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/). Fishery Patrol and protection and conducted from the SGSSI vessel MV Pharos SG. The fishery exploits two species, Patagonian toothfish and mackerel icefish. There have been exploratory fisheries for crabs and squid but neither have proved commercial.

The dynamics of both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia fisheries are dominated by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) – directly at South Georgia and indirectly via the Falkland Current, a branch of the ACC, in the case of the Falkland Islands. There are also linkages between the two ecosystems – Patagonian toothfish is exploited by both fisheries and several species of higher predator cross the Antarctic Polar Front and utilise both habitats at different times of year and at different stages in the life cycle. Problems associated with environmental variability and environmental change are therefore common to both fisheries and a broad scale view of the South Atlantic is needed to understand ecosystem function in relation to fishery exploitation and to make reliable predictions about the future.

Dr Deborah Davidson sampling common hake (Merluccius hubbsi) using an electronic measuring board

 

Near shore research

The Shallow Marine Surveys Group (SMSG) coordinates and conducts assessments of the status of inshore environment around the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Ascension Island. Funded through a number of grant awards, a team of biologists, divers and volunteers have been photographing and cataloging marine species since 2006. They have been successful in establishing links with other international research groups with related interests in marine conservation. The SMSG has undertaken a survey of the South Georgia (summer 2010/11) littoral and sublittoral to a depth of 18 m. Recently SMSG, in partnership with SAERI, led an ambitious multidisciplinary marine biodiversity survey on Ascension (www.smsg-falklands.org/blog).

Dr Judith Brown ascending on a delayed SMB after a survey

 

Agriculture

The Falkland Islands Government Agriculture Department is responsible for both regulatory programmes and applied research with an overall aim of improving profitability for Falkland Island farmers. Activity is split between the agriculture laboratories in Stanley and the Saladero research farm.

Applied research focuses on several topics including pasture improvement and grazing management. It considers other issues related to moves from rangeland grazing to more intensive agriculture including alternative sources of fertilizer and use of satellite imagery to monitor the impact of these programmes.

The Agriculture Department has good links with the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department investigating new fertilizer sources and with Falkland Conservations looking at sustainable practices and bird conservation. Internationally links are well established with groups in Northern Ireland and Australia.

Outside of the Agriculture Department, the Falkland Islands Trust (FIT) has undertaken a number of agriculture related research projects, including advice related to organic accreditation. It has also investigated tussac planting and its role in biodiversity, soil conservation and fodder production. FIT has also supported research into tree planting for shelter and seaweed as a source of stock feed and fertilizer. FIT also has external links with University of Magallanes investigating the potential of a peony flower export market. It may be worthwhile to open discussions with the Royal Agricultural College.


Embryo transfer on a sheep in the Falkland Islands

 

Conservation and Biodiversity

The Falkland Islands are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and vast colonies of seabirds. Falklands Conservation and New Island Conservation Trust are the most wide reaching organisations involved in conservation research. Specific activities include seabird protection, invasive species eradication, habitat restoration and assessment of potential environmental impacts from future oil and gas development. Conservation activities in the Falkland Islands concentrate on protecting and restoring this diverse local ecology and biodiversity.

Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) on Beauchêne Island

 

Geology & Geomorphology

In previous years significant effort was invested by the British Geological Society (funded by FIG) in mapping the onshore geology of the Falkland Islands. This is now largely complete and interest in this activity has largely stopped. There is still some on-going study of the rock runs, but is limited to occasional student projects.

There is much greater potential for geomorphology research to investigate the palaeo-climate and glacial history of the Falkland Islands. This work may provide greater understanding of local sea level changes in the past and contribute to understanding the long term climate of the South Atlantic, including the influence of the Antarctic.


Stone runs, East Falkland


Upper Atmosphere and Climatology

A recent addition to the Falkland Islands is University of Leicester’s and British Antarctic Survey’s installation a new radar array designed to monitor the upper atmosphere. The radar is part of the international Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) composed of 22 such radars which monitor the upper atmosphere to understand its link with the lower atmosphere weather and the impact of the Sun's 'solar wind' on our environment.

BAS/University of Lester Super Dual Auroral Radar Network at Goose Green, Falkland Islands