1) To describe trophic relationships in near shore marine benthic ecosystems of East Antarctica and determine the importance of environmental forces (such as sea ice and primary production) to the structure of food webs and biological interactions in benthic assemblages.
2) To determine how marine benthic food webs in East Antarctica respond to local scale disturbances (such as ... sewage outfalls and abandoned waste disposal sites) and develop predictive models of the influence of local human activities on trophic relationships.
3) To develop predictive models for the potential effects of global climate change on the trophic structure and function of near shore marine benthic assemblages and determine the sensitivity of Antarctic near shore ecosystems as sentinels of climate change.
4) To measure toxicity of organic contaminants to Antarctic marine benthic invertebrates, determine concentrations in upper trophic level fauna and to model the risk of bioaccumulation of organic contaminants (from local and global sources) in near shore marine benthic food webs in East Antarctica.
Collections of organisms from coastal ecosystems around Casey and Davis stations were made between 2006/07 and 2010/11. These samples have been used in a variety of ways to examine trophic interactions in Antarctic coastal ecosystems. Methods include stable isotope analysis, diet and gut contents DNA analysis, analysis of POPs (persistent organic pollutants) and the impacts of local disturbances on food webs.