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LIU Post Biologist to Lecture on Antarctic Expedition April 23


Rita Langdon,Associate Provost for Communications, Public Relations & Marketing
Long Island University, LIU Post

Scott SantagataBrookville, N.Y. - Dr. Scott Santagata, assistant professor of biology at LIU Post, will offer a public lecture on his experiences on an NSF-funded research cruise to Antarctica during January - February 2013.

As an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in the development, evolution and ecology of aquatic invertebrates, Dr. Santagata will speak on Tuesday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall, Winnick House, at LIU Post in Brookville. The lecture is open to the public.

The presentation, titled “Biodiversity of Antarctic Marie Shelf Life Communities," is organized by LIU Post's Department of Biology and the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Santagata was part of an international team of scientists who traveled to Antarctica on the Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer to study genetic patterns of biodiversity in the Bellingshausen, Amundsen, and Ross Seas. The team left Punta Arenas Chile Jan 1, and arrived into McMurdo Station, Antarctica February 9, sampling some of the most remote waters on the planet.

The expedition was led by two principal investigators, Dr. Ken Halanych from Auburn University and Dr. Andy Mahon of Central Michigan University. Dr. Santagata was one of four research scientists and two postdoctoral fellows on board, bringing his expertise in invertebrate taxonomy to the international team of researchers.

Scott Santagata obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. At LIU Post, his research mainly focuses on the development and phylogenetic relationships of marine invertebrates. He is a member of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology, and has been a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution for the last five years.

Why travel to Antarctica?

"The marine invertebrate communities found on the Antarctic shelf are utterly fantastic, filled with amazing species not found anywhere else on the planet appearing more similar to those of the Paleozoic Era, when bryozoans, brachiopods, and sponges built large reefs as opposed to the coral-dominated reefs we are more familiar with today," notes Dr. Santagata. "Antarctic marine environments provide key insights into our planet's biological past, and also the realization that the Antarctic's fragile biodiversity is threatened by global environmental change and ocean acidification."

In addition, said Dr. Santagata, the team wanted to establish an understanding of where different species currently occur, given the rapidly changing environment in the Antarctic region due to climate change. 

From his standpoint the expedition was a success, said Dr. Santagata. "We found a rich diversity of life forms," he said, "some of which are likely to be new species. These data are crucial for establishing a baseline of biodiversity and genetic connectivity among geographically distant populations in this remote region of the world, which will be useful for understanding global environmental change."

Posted 04/23/2013

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