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SPRI Review 1999: Polar Ecology and Management Group

Polar Ecology and Management Group

Dr B. Stonehouse

Dr P.K. Crosbie, B. Davies

This group has continued to study management issues in the ecology of both polar regions, particularly in relation to shipborne tourism. In November Kim Crosbie was awarded a PhD for her five-year studies of passenger operations, impacts, and management of landing sites in the maritime Antarctic. Throughout the year Dr Bernard Stonehouse helped to supervise the MPhil studies of Bill Davies, a Canadian research student with several years' practical experience aboard cruise ships, on developing a management plan for Deception Island, a popular Antarctic tourist venue. These theses represented the tenth and eleventh studies based on the group's research into polar tourism, for which higher degrees have been awarded. The programme is currently being wound up, and final reports are in preparation. Dr Stonehouse's book The last continent, an account of Antarctica written particularly for shipborne tourists, was completed during this year and is due for publication in February 2000.

Between October and December 1998, Dr Crosbie was expedition leader on cruises that visited Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island, South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, and the maritime Antarctic. In late November and early December Dr Stonehouse, a guest lecturer on three of the cruises, left the ship to spend two weeks ashore at Henryk Arctowski Station, Admiralty Bay, South Shetland Islands. He resumed work with the Department of Antarctic Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences (suspended last season during rebuilding) on developing educational facilities, including recreational trails, in the station area. With Polish biologists he is studying damage and recovery processes in soils and vegetation that are subject to stress by penguins, elephant seals, and human trampling. He was able to visit the Cape Lions Rump SSSI and environs to inspect one of several possible site for a proposed Czech research station in the King George Bay area.

In February 1999 Dr Stonehouse joined Dr John Snyder (Centre for Sustainable Tourism, University of Colorado) for discussions on Antarctic tourism issues with officers of the Antarctic Sciences Section, National Science Foundation. In April he visited the Department of Antarctic Biology in Warsaw, to discuss future work on King George Island. The travel was arranged under an exchange scheme supported by the British Council, which also provided for visits by Polish researchers to the Institute. From Warsaw Dr Stonehouse attended an international Antarctic environmental workshop in Zlin, Czech Republic, for further discussions with members of the Czech Academy of Sciences on their initiative for an Antarctic research station.

In June Dr Stonehouse lectured at the Department of Biology, Phillips-Universitat, Marburg, Germany, where he is co-supervising a research student, Ms Kathrin Schuster. Her research, concerning variations in heartbeat and respiration changes in penguins and other seabirds, uses artificial eggs with infra-red sensors developed by Dr Stonehouse and Professor Robert Schroter, (Imperial College, London) and previously used in the field in Amanda Nimon's studies of gentoo penguins. The equipment has been modified and the techniques developed in preparation for further fieldwork on Adélie penguins and giant skuas in November 1999. In July and August Dr Crosbie was expedition leader, and Dr Stonehouse guest lecturer, on cruises to Iceland and Svalbard. Unusually benign ice conditions allowed circumnavigations of Spitsbergen, considerably extending the normal northward and eastward range of tour-based cruises by ice-strengthened ships. These cruises provide first-hand information on how shipborne tourism is managed ashore under the wilderness-management regimes imposed by different national governments.