I am a PhD candidate at the University of Hawai’i, USA working with Dr. Craig Smith. My research focuses on the environmental drivers of bio-diversity and bio-geography of seafloor communities in the Antarctic Peninsula region.
In general, the coastal Antarctic is particularly interesting as it is the gateway between the oceanic realm and the cryosphere; this is where glaciers meet ocean. This has a profound effect on the physics, chemistry and biology but also makes this region particularly sensitive to climate change. We need to better understand how these ecosystems function to understand how climate changes in the future will affect the organisms and the overall ecosystem.
Productivity, or the growth of phytoplankton in the upper ocean, is extremely seasonal in the Antarctic. This material sinks over time providing the main source of food to the animals living on the seafloor. I am particularly interested in pelagic-benthic coupling which is the connection between upper ocean processes (e.g. phytoplankton blooms) and seafloor processes (e.g. organic matter respiration). Alterations to food availability and quality can have far reaching impacts on an organism’s growth, reproductive output and ultimately population-level changes to abundances.
The dramatic variability of productivity and delivery of this detritus to the seafloor (in time and space) makes the seafloor response very interesting to explore. One of the ways in which we can observe changes at the seafloor is by using time-lapse seafloor photography. We can also use photography to understand distribution patterns of organisms in space with towed camera systems.
In addition to my research, I greatly value the impact of hands-on outreach and education in my local community. Showcasing bizarre Antarctic seafloor animals is always a hit! I often offer laboratory tours and activities to visiting school groups to show what they can do in science and open their eyes to different oceanic ecosystems.
If you would like to contact me, here is how:
Personal website: https://amandafziegler.wordpress.com
Project website: https://fjordeco.wordpress.com
My publications include:
Ziegler, A.F., Smith, C.R., Edwards, K.F., and Vernet, M. 2017. Glacial dropstones: islands enhancing seafloor species richness in West Antarctic Peninsula fjords. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 583, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12363 (Feature article)
Amon, D. J., Ziegler, A. F., Kremenetskaia, A., Mah, C. L., Mooi, R., O’Hara, T., … Smith, C. R. (2017). Megafauna of the UKSRL exploration contract area and eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean: Echinodermata. Biodiversity Data Journal, (5), e11794. Advance online publication. http://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.5.e11794
Amon, D. J., Ziegler, A. F., Dahlgren, T. G., Glover, A. G., Goineau, A., Gooday, A. J., … & Smith, C. R. (2016). Insights into the abundance and diversity of abyssal megafauna in a polymetallic-nodule region in the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Scientific Reports, 6.
My research was also featured in a recent local news article:
“Oceanography graduate students bring their science to Kauai high schools” (2018) https://www.soest.hawaii.edu/soestwp/announce/news/oceanography-graduate-students-bring-their-science-to-kauai-high-schools/