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CENSUS OF ANTARCTIC MARINE LIFE

Project Description
Short Title: CAML
Project URL: http://www.caml.aq/
Proposal URL: http://classic.ipy.org/development/eoi/proposal-details.php?id=53

The Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) investigates the distribution and abundance of Antarctica's marine biodiversity, how it is affected by climate change, and how change will alter the nature of the ecosystem services currently provided by the Southern Ocean for the benefit of mankind.

The CAML is a five-year project that will focus the attention of the public on the ice-bound oceans of Antarctica during the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007/08. Its objective is to study the evolution of life in Antarctic waters, to determine how this has influenced the diversity of the present biota, and to use these observations to predict how it might respond to future change. The CAML will collaborate with biological oceanographers in its work, for at its heart lies the integrated nature of ecological and biological change.

Polar regions experience greater rates of climate change than elsewhere on the planet. The fauna of the regions are uniquely adapted to the extreme environments in which they exist, and may be vulnerable to shifts in climate. There is an urgent need to establish the state of these communities, and in particular their biodiversity, if we are to understand the impact of climate change. The project will integrate knowledge across all regions, biomes, habitats and fields of study to strengthen our knowledge of ecosystem dynamics in this high latitude, frozen ocean system. Only through a multi-scale level of investigation will a better understanding of the diversity and status of Antarctica's marine life be obtained.

The CAML's main biodiversity data will be collected from 17 research vessels during the IPY. In addition, tourist vessels will contribute observations and other ships will collect samples using the Continuous Plankton Recorder. The biodiversity data, collected as georeferenced species records, will available on the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research's Marine Biodiversity Information Network (SCAR-MarBIN http://www.scarmarbin.be) for researchers, governments and others concerned with ocean management.

The CAML will leave legacy sites for future comparability studies. It will employ modern genomic techniques and contribute to the Barcode of Life project, integrating with other Census projects. In particular, the CAML will interact very strongly with the Arctic Ocean Diversity Project (ArcOD), drawing comparisons between differences in ecological structure and dynamics between the Arctic and Southern Oceans.
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