COPAS Sur-Austral is awarded two new research projects to study the Chilean Patagonia
Two new research projects in Patagonia have been funded under the COPAS Sur-Austral Basal Funding Program of the Universidad de Concepción. Both projects will be carried out on the oceanographic cruise that begins this weekend and for approximately 20 days will sail in the waters of the channels and fjords of the 11th Region as part of the activities of the CIMAR Fjords Program organized by the National Oceanographic Committee (CONA). The cruise on the scientific ship Abate Molina of the Chilean Navy, will consist of a series of oceanographic stations distributed along a longitudinal extension between Boca del Guafo and the Elefantes Gulf. It is also planned to take extensive samplings or study processes in Boca del Guafo, Moraleda Channel and Aysén Fjord.
The first project “The role of the pelagic microbial trophic web in the carbon flow during winter conditions between Boca del Guafo and the Elefantes Estuary” is led by the researcher of Universidad Austral de Chile, Dr. José Luis Iriarte, with the participation of researchers from the Universidad de Concepción, Universidad Austral de Chile and CIEP. The objective of the project is to determine the relevance of microbial communities (autotrophic and heterotrophic) and microphytoplankton in the major fraction of primary production at the higher levels of the pelagic trophic web and in sediments between Boca del Guafo and Elefantes Estuary. The second project “Vertical distribution, origin and transport of ichtioplankton from the area of Boca del Guafo to Elefantes Estuary”, led by Dr. Leonardo Castro from the Universidad de Concepción, has the objective of determining the origin and possible transport of fish eggs and larvae between the continental platform and channels and fjords of the 11th Region, using fatty acids as biomarkers, together with horizontal and vertical distribution of these early states of fish development.
Both projects are the continuation of research carried out by the same group of researchers for more than 5 years the length of Patagonia from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn in the framework of the CIMAR Fjords Program. The Marine Research in Remote Areas Program (CIMAR) has been conducting oceanographic cruises since 1995 to Patagonian channels, fjords and the oceanic islands of Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island. In total, there have been 17 cruises, 15 of which were directed at the southern channels and fjord and two were to the oceanic islands. This year the main objectives of the 2012 research cruise are “To determine the biodiversity and its relationship to environmental variables to evaluate the changes and alterations in the abundance and distribution of organisms in the area of study” and “To identify and quantify the processes that sustain productivity to generate tools that can predict changes that can occur in response to natural and anthropogenic alterations”. In total, the 2012 cruise will include the participation of 15 researchers from 9 institutions that are members of the National Oceanographic Committee, among them 6 national universities, the Institute for Fisheries Promotion, the Center for Research on the Ecosystems of Patagonia (CIEP), and the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy (SHOA).
By Dr. Leonardo Castro, PhD in Coastal Oceanography, Researcher COPAS Sur-Austral, Faculty Department of Oceanography, Universidad de Concepción.