Auburn researchers to embark on six-week Antarctic cruise

19 Dec

Auburn University researchers on a six-week Antarctic cruise will sample species such as sea urchins, sea spiders, isopods, crinoids and marine worms that are taken from a depth of 400 to 1,000 meters. The team will document their findings and challenge the theory that many Antarctic species are circumpolar, or found all the way around the continent.

On Jan. 1, a team of scientists from Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics will embark on a research cruise to one of the world’s most secluded and mysterious places, Antarctica. The voyage will last approximately six weeks, during which time the team will explore the genetic diversity of marine organisms found in the waters surrounding Earth’s southernmost continent.

The research is sponsored by a National Science Foundation grant titled, “Genetic Connectivity and Biogeographic Patterns of Antarctic Bethnic Invertebrates.” Kenneth Halanych, Stewart W. Schneller endowed chair in Auburn’s Department of Biological Sciences, is the principal investigator on the project. Scott Santos, associate professor of biological sciences at Auburn, and Andrew Mahon, assistant professor of biological sciences at Central Michigan University and former postdoctoral fellow at Auburn, are co-principal investigators. Santos will remain at Auburn and collect data and daily journal information from the expedition. The daily blog will be available to follow on the Antarctica Cruises website at

Participants on the cruise from Auburn University will include graduate students, one undergraduate student and Halanych, who made a previous research voyage to Antarctica in 1999.

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