The IDEAL Center released the first results of its studies on connectivity between Antarctic and Subantarctic regions during the last biology symposium of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), held in Leuven, Belgium.

Three scientists from the Research Center Dynamics for High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL Center) – Dr. Luis Vargas and Dr. Leyla Cárdenas (Universidad Austral de Chile) and Dr. Claudio González (Universidad de Magallanes) – presented the results and progress of their Antarctic research at the XII Biology Symposium of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), from 10 to 14 July 2017.

Dr. Luis Vargas presented the physiological responses of the Antarctic fish, Harpagifer, to new temperature and salinity scenarios, as well as its heat tolerance. In turn, Dr. Leyla Cárdenas presented the distribution pattern of genetic diversity for Kidderia clams, a mollusk that inhabits both Antarctic and Subantarctic areas. Dr. Cárdenas also compared the parasitic fauna among species of Nacella, a type of limpet that inhabits the Southern Ocean.

Luis Vargas during the XII Symposium on Biology, SCAR 2017.

Dr. Claudio González presented an investigation on biogeographic patterns in mollusks of the Southern Ocean. His results suggest that the mollusks studied in the Antarctic and Subantarctic zone would have differentiated 10 million years ago and not 30, as was believed, when Antarctica and South America separated. “This way, the Antarctic polar front would be an efficient biogeographic barrier for benthic marine organisms between the Antarctic and Subantarctic zones,” explained González.

Dr. González also presented a study on Siphonaria, a limpet that lives in the intertidal zone. “Two species, Siphonaria lateralis and Siphonaria fuegiensis, were detected in what was thought to be a single species. Morphologically they are very similar, but genetically they are very different,” González noted.

The works presented by the three researchers in Belgium corresponded to the IDEAL Center’s research program on the adaptation of marine species, part of the Antarctic and Subantarctic connectivity studies.

The delegation of Chilean researchers who participated in the SCAR 2017 Biology Symposium.

“The most interesting point of the Symposium,” said Dr. Leyla Cardenas, “was the divulgation of studies that used state-of-the-art technology. For example, metagenomics allows scientists to build a bridge between the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean and the processes that have governed the evolution of these organisms in this extreme environment.”

For Vargas, these kinds of conferences “show how we move forward with our research and how the rest of the scientific community sees us. They are also useful for setting up work meetings, projecting new investigations, and especially for making and strengthening collaborations with colleagues in other parts of the world.”