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SPRI Review 1995: SPRI Review 1995

SPRI Review 1995

Research Overviews

Polar Ecology and Management Group

Dr B. Stonehouse, Senior associate
P.K. Crosbie, P. Davis, A. Dey, D. Enzenbacher, A.J. Nimon

The work of this group has included ecological and environmental issues in both polar regions, with particular emphasis on polar tourism.

From late November 1994 to late February 1995 a team of four occupied the Institute's Antarctic research station on Cuverville Island, Danco Coast, Antarctic Peninsula. As in the previous season, Kim Crosbie (Research Student) led the party. She was accompanied by Amanda Nimon (Research Student), Amanda Ellerback, and Sean Stephen (Engineer, Station manager). Dr Stonehouse visited the station several times during the season. This season's work rounded off studies of Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel area begun in 1992, including topographic and botanical surveys; censuses of penguin, skua, gull, shag, and tern populations; an examination of ways in which the area was used by visiting tour parties; and devising optimal strategies between penguins and visitors. On the strength of the team's findings, the draft management proposals for Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel have been updated. At the end of the season, the station was removed and the site cleared.

Between November and March, Dr Stonehouse made nine cruises with several tour operators, investigating ship operations, developing methods of cruise reporting, and surveying landing sites. Topographical surveys were undertaken by Kenneth Blaiklock, a veteran surveyor with many years' Antarctic experience, who has been collating information from British Antarctic Survey and UK Hydrographic Office archives. In the field, he developed a method of rapid mapping using paired GPS receivers, a plane table, and other simple equipment, to produce maps on scales of about 1:200. The ecological survey work was assisted by Ms Jasmine Minbashian, a graduate ecologist from University of Washington.

Results of these surveys are being accumulated on the Institute landing site database, which currently holds details of 180 Antarctic sites that are used or have been used for tourist landings. Draft management recommendations, prepared for several of the most popular sites where flora, fauna, or historic relics are considered to be at risk, have been circulated to selected cruise operators for comment and amendment during the 1995-1996 season.

Forms designed to simplify cruise reporting were field-tested by a team of experienced cruise staff, including Peter Speak, Greg Mortimer, and Sylvia Stevens. Thomas Bauer, a senior lecturer in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Victoria University for Technology, Melbourne, are intended to help in profiling cruise passengers and predicting the market for Antarctic tourism.

Logisitic help for this season's work was generously given by several cruise operators, notably Quark and Noble Caledonia.

From 1 December 1994 to 28 February 1995 a display of the group's work was mounted at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Geneva, in an exhibition entitled 'The polar regions, the Alps and climatic change,' presented by the International Committee for Cryosphere Ecostystems. The exhibition covered environmental issues in both polar regions and the European Alps, with emphasis on conservation in changing environments.

In the course of the year, three research students, Debra Enzenbacher, Pamela Davis, and Anity Dey, completed their doctoral research and were awarded PhD degrees.