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Wednesday 13 May 2020 3:14pm

Associate Professor Ceridwen Fraser on Deception Island where she was sampling soils and mosses to understand how volcanic heat supports biodiversity in Antarctica.

Department of Marine Science's Associate Professor Ceridwen Fraser has been invited to represent New Zealand in a new and significant Australian Antarctic programme, adding to the Department's growing recognition for contribution to Antarctic research.

Associate Professor Fraser is one of three researchers from New Zealand to contribute to the joint programme, Securing Antarctica's Environmental Future, which is to be led by Australia's Monash University.

The programme, which will run over seven years, is focused on furthering understanding of Antarctica's biodiversity and the impacts of warming, and Associate Professor Fraser's contribution will involve biogeographic analyses of Antarctic plants and animals.

This latest recognition for Marine Science follows last year's announcement that Head of Department Professor Miles Lamare will lead one of New Zealand's four major Antarctic Science Platform projects.

"Most importantly, these collaborations will complement and enhance the outcomes of both the New Zealand and Australian research programmes."

Associate Professor Fraser and several other Otago researchers are involved in the six-year project that will focus on the drivers of species distribution in the biologically-productive Ross Sea region.

Professor Lamare says the project will engage in novel research using tools such as environmental DNA in water sampling which will operate autonomously over the winter months when access to the region is not possible.

The Antarctic Science Platform project focuses on the Ross Sea region where the world's largest Marine Protected Area is located, and Associate Professor Fraser says the new Australian collaboration will extend the application of this research.

“The new collaborations will allow our Ross Sea region findings to be placed in a broader context and look beyond the region to understand processes that operate across both regional and larger scales,” Associate Professor Fraser says.

“Most importantly, these collaborations will complement and enhance the outcomes of both the New Zealand and Australian research programmes.”

Over 20 Otago researchers are contributing to the four major Antarctic Science Platform projects announced last year, including paleoceanographer Dr Christina Riesselman who is co-leading a project to study the impacts of change in the Antarctic atmosphere and Southern Ocean.

Professor Lamare says Associate Professor Fraser's invitation to contribute to the Australian research programme reinforces the contribution that Marine Science is making to Antarctic research and understanding future change.

“The breadth of research now taking place across Otago reinforces and recognises the University's leadership and contribution it is making to internationally recognised climate change research,” Professor Lamare says.

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