DPLUS148 – Climate Resilience in the Falkland Islands Fisheries and Marine Environment: new year, new faces, and exciting progress

Dr Jesse van der Grient

Last newsletter we had the pleasure to announce that Gareth Price from the University of Portsmouth would come to the Falkland Islands to work on his undergraduate thesis over Christmas. Gareth took charge of the experimental tanks up at the Fortuna aquaculture facilities in Moody Brooke. He investigated the responses of various kelp-associated animals to two different rates of warming. By exposing animals to different rates of warming, we can determine how much warming compared to natural conditions they can withstand. This tolerance varies, depending on the rate of change – animals can often withstand more warming when they are exposed to rapid warming compared to slow warming. These differences across time can allow us to extrapolate to long-term changes that resemble climate change (which is not a timescale we can replicate in the lab). This work is forming part of the larger Darwin project, where we will run long-term experiments and include several more species in this project. Further, we will compare the results to similar experiments we will run with species of kelp to understand if flora and fauna respond differently or not to ocean warming. We are looking forward to the results this year! We want to give a big shout out to Barend, Ash and Ed! 
They have been absolutely wonderful and vital in supporting this work. So thank you guys!
Image: Different animals have varied responses to ocean warming.
While slightly later than hoped, Rhian Taylor from the University of Aberdeen finally arrived in the Falkland Islands in February! 
Rhian is our PhD student who will be investigating the zooplankton samples we have been taken the last year, and she will take more samples this year to understand seasonal patterns in our zooplankton. She has already been out with the boat, learning how to take the samples, and she has been working in the Agriculture Department (FIG) to identify the various zooplankton under the microscope. In addition, she will be looking at length-frequency and life history of some of the key zooplankton. So far, we had wonderful wildlife supervision while we were out, seeing several species of whales and dolphins, penguins, and seabirds. The zooplankton data has been quite interesting, showing large changes in the community compared to December, with a complete jelly-fication in March! Who knows what other surprising the zooplankton will have for us this year?
Image: When the nets are back on deck, we hose them down to capture as many zooplankton as possible in the cod ends.
Image: Many animals that are not zooplankton can be seen during a sampling day, including rafts of beautiful imperial shags that keep a careful eye on our progress.
Image: Jesse (left) and Rhian (right) are sampling zooplankton. Some groups are picked out for further analyses.

The first article of this project is published in the Advances in Marine Sciences

In preparation of the ecosystem model, we reviewed the published literature on food-web interactions, ontogenetic (that is, different life stages such as larvae, juvenile, and adults) migration and seasonal dynamics in the Falkland Islands marine ecosystem and we analysed gaps in the data. The Falkland marine food web connects our waters across space, with species travelling from Brazil and Chile to our Islands, and from the deep sea to our kelp forests, over time. It is a very exciting ecosystem!

Image left: The Falkland Islands are surrounded by complex oceanographic dynamics that play important roles in structuring the marine biological community of the Falkland Islands.
Dr Jesse van der Grient will be travelling to the U.S. to work with project partners Will White and Michael Clarke at the Oregon State University in Oregon. The aim is to finish the ecosystem model she has been working on, and to host a workshop on ecosystem modelling in data-limited high-latitude environments. Read all about the workshop in the next newsletter!
As always, none of the work described above would have been possible without the tremendous help of all our partners, and I am grateful for the opportunities they provide. Thank you to FIFCA, FIG, FIFD, SMSG, OSU, and BAS for their continued support.
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