The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund (AWR) is pleased to announce the first three recipients of AWR’s first-ever research grants. 

Most Southern Ocean marine species, such as whales, seals and penguins are dependent on Antarctic krill—a small shrimp-like organism that forms the base of Antarctic food web. AWR’s mission is to fill critical gaps in research and monitoring to improve the management of the Antarctic krill fishery.

The first three research projects to be funded by the AWR are:

  • A project to gather data and analyze the summer and winter foraging behavior patterns of humpback whales around the Antarctic Peninsula. Dr. Ari Friedlander (Oregon State University) will lead the project, along with his colleague from Duke University.
  • A study on the foraging range and habitat preference of non-breeding brush tail penguins: Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo.  The project will be led by Dr. Andrew Lowther, in cooperation with other scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and the Norwegian Polar Institute.
  • A project to develop a new direct ageing methodology for Antarctic krill, by Dr. Christian Reiss, of the US National Marine Fisheries Service, along with colleagues from the University of New Brunswick and the Australian Antarctic Division
“These three research proposal each address a critical knowledge gap regarding krill and its dependent predators,” said Mark Epstein, chair of the Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund. “We are thrilled to be able to fund world class Antarctic research and are certain that these proposals will help us understand, and ultimately, make better management decisions for the Antarctic krill fishery.”
“The ecology of non-breeding penguins is largely undocumented, and so this project has the potential to yield novel insights into how their behavior differs from that of breeding birds and what implications such differences may have for the management of Antarctic krill fisheries. We are all very pleased that this project will proceed with AWR support and look forward to sharing its findings with the panel in due course”, said Dr. Norman Ratcliffe at the British Antarctic Survey.

The AWR issued its first call for proposals on March 16, 2015, working with both commercial supporters and individuals to raise donations and inviting applications from scientific researchers whose research can aid in determining the impact of the krill fishing industry on the Antarctic marine ecosystem.  

Over the past three months, AWR’s Science Advisory Group (SAG) evaluated 10 scientific research proposals. The SAG based their evaluation of each proposal on criteria previously published on the AWR website, including: excellence, fit to scheme, cost effectiveness, and track record. 

Read more in the press release on the inaugural grants.