Ecosystems of the polar caps 

 a new RUTGERS university course

on oceanography, planktology and biology from the fascinating coasts of high latitudes  

with Uwe Kils

enter here for teaching content (for registered RUTGERS students only)

Professor evaluation by the students of the course in fall 1999

general message board

marine and coastal sciencesRUTGERS 

pulsating ice caps - timeseries over the year



A Some impressions from onboard  POLARSTERN

The frame




Krill - fish - cephalopods



other Birds



Carbon Sequestration





Maximum enrollment


The polar oceans cover 53 million square kilometers - that is over 5 times the area of the USA inclusive Alaska and Hawaii.

The packice zones, pulsating each season over 30 million square kilometers, are considered by many scientists as the "lungs of the planet".

These areas support life in astonishing quantities, forms, toughness and beauty: Whales and birds traveled from all over the world and relied on the  abundant energy sources of this gigantic packice zone, today scientists travel there and hope to find knowledge how our planet changed recently and if some developments might be slowed down.

This "Ice Life" course introduces into the basics of these gigantic, remote, strange, mystic, fascinating ecosystems, gives insight to traditional and modern investigation strategies and tools.

Some impressions from onboard POLARSTERN image copyright AWI 

The frame

introduction - current events - major institutes - history of oceanography of the polar regions - comparison with moderate zones 


Location size and dynamics of the packice ecosystems - life under the ice - "The Biggest Lawn of the Planet" - north and south polar oceans compared - underwater ice and "green icebergs" - protists in the cravice ice system - antarctic lakes and their role as indicator for global warming - Lake Vostok and new findings of life forms and physiological pathways - Jupiter moon EUROPA findings and expectations  - remote longterm sensing of ice-covered regions   image copyright AWI

Online WEB CAM thermometer of the AASTO South Pole Station - updated every 10 minutes (copyright and thanks to: University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.Melinda TaylorProf. John Storey.


energy flow - light regime - selected species - temperature and physiology - primary production under extreme conditions in relation to boreal systems - the "biological pump" in the southern oceans - oxygen production - measurements of physiology regime - GLOBEC southern ocenan international projects - videoconference with GERD DIEKMANN AWI Bremerhaven 
right at the iceedge of the southern continent some of the highest plankton concentrations of the planet are observed, very variable and patchy however. Here the nutrients from waters of all oceans return to the light flooded surface layers to nurish extreme blooms. What animals are capable of harvesting this unique garden? Who come here every year to feast? Who can survive here permanentely? (Image modified from NASA with permission of Paul Falkowski RUTGERS IMCS


foodchain energetics and dynamics - overwintering strategies and life history of selected species - concentrations of toxic materials  in classical foodchains - predator prey calculations and dynamics - the role of lipids in overwintering and swimming energetics - hands on exercises on our new cyberMicroscope

Krill - fish - cephalopods

krill: example of a central organism in the antarctic ecosystem - the slow discovery of the early life history of krill - swimming and feeding dynamics of krill - growth under extreme conditions - basic population dynamics - distribution - energetics - stock assessment calculations - traditonal methods - growth analysis - FORD WALFORD plot - scale evaluations - PETERSEN method - BEVERTON & HOLT method - VPA method - new computer based population dynamics - cephalopods of the polar oceans - the "pleuragramma story" 

try our cyberMICROSCOPE click into this image - visit a K12 server in Sydney

in situ image of a cruising Euphausiasuperba in the Southern Ocean - the filtering basket is wide open ready to capture a small red copepod 30 degree below the eye. The swimming legs are beating with full power, the telson adjusts the approach slightly downwards

visit the Underwater Antarctica Field Guide and try for the identification exercise on different krill and amphipods.


antarctic Benthos: myths and facts - politics in ocean sciences - underwater imaging: why do we need an "eye" at the ocean floors? - porifera in antarctika - systematic of crustaceans: the key role of the arctic waters - biology of antarctic macro algae - the "anti-benthos"   image copyright AWI


diving physiology of penguins - the secrets of the "underwater flyers"

other Birds


the pinnacle of aerodynamic evolution - scuas and their feeding ecology


the wedell seal: a diving expert - whales: physiology - history fo whaling - how much whales would we have been able to utilize under wise management until today - basic concepts of aquatic resource management - the biggest errors the whaling harvest made

image copyright AWI

Instrumentation and new investigation strategies

platforms - stations - remote stations - pumps -  nets - sediment traps - in situ cameras - new under ice strategies - voyager

image copyright AWI

oceanGLIDER PINKI - one of our quantitative optical systems to bring in situ microscopes into difficult waters

Carbon Sequestration

global ocean circulation - problems with sediment traps "Sampling technology is a critical issue" "It makes little sense to run highly calibrated chemical measurements on trap material" (JUMAS 1993)


image copyright AWI

Outreach and discussion

these extreme ecosystems are very well suited to demonstrate basic concepts of oceanography at the advanced undergraduate level, because of the extremes in physiology and morphology, the wide ranges of physical parameters and its effects on biological processes, as well as their interface with global phenomena. The findings will be related to work in moderate zones, to general principles of marine sciences, to ocean foodchains and for large scale toxicology tracing. It will compare traditional approaches to new developments in oceanography instrumentation and strategies, discussed with examples currently developed within RUTGERS projects like LEO15, remote sensing and photonics with "current events" like scanning for life with new remote technology tested in the difficult waters of New York Harbor or under the ice of Antarctica. Contacts to scientists and work conducted from the USA, mainly operating out of Florida, California and Texas, will be established as an example of international cooperations, with links as far reaching as setting the stage for investigations and testing of equipment for future space missions to search for unknown life down under ice of Lake Vostok and the Jupiter moon Europa - if possible videoconference with the exobiology groups in Princeton University (Link to Michael Strauss's class on Search for Life in the Universe - Department of Astrophysical Sciences


Monday 1.10 pm to ca. 3.30

3 credits 

Maximum enrollment

28 students - participants of my former classes get a special permit number


BONNER W & WALTON D 1989 ANTARCTICA - Key Environments, Ed. Pergamon Press, Oxford

LOEB V, SIEGEL V, HOLM-HANSEN O, HEWITT R, FRASER W, TRIVELPIECE W, TRIVELPIECE R S 1997 Effects of sea-ice extent and krill or salp dominance on the Antarctic food web. Nature 387, 897-900

(available in CHANG Library on DOUGLASS/COOK Campus as hard copy and on the CHANG server - between IMCS and NABISCO Food Science Building)

optional for the advanced ice explorer (some will be mirrored/translated on this server for the class and only selected assignments necessary for a fine final grade)

MARR J W S 1962 The natural history and geography of the Antarctic Krill Euphausia superba - Discovery report 32:33-464

PAVLOV V Y 1970 On the  physiology of feeding in Euphausia superba.- Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR 196: 1477-1480 - Translation by All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography, Moscow

KILS 1978 UMSCHAU - Scientific European 78  Heft 13 Seite 1-2

KILS U &  KLAGES N 1979 Der Krill. Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau 10: Seite 397 - 402

McWHINNIE M A & DENYS C J 1980 The high importance of lowly krill - Natural History 89: 66-73

HEMPEL 1981 BIOMASS UMSCHAU - Scientific European 81 Heft 13 Seite 401-405

KILS,U 1982 Swimming behaviour, Swimming Performance and Energy Balance of BIOMASS Scientific Series 3, BIOMASS Research Series - Southern Ocean Ecosystems and their living resources, initiated & Editor Sayed El-Sayed, Texas A & M University, 122 p

ANTEZANA T & RAY K 1983 Aggregation of Euphausia superba as an adaptive group strategy to the antarctic ecosystem. In: Berichte zur Polarforschung, Alfred Wegener Institut fuer Polarforschung, Sonderheft 4 (1983) On the biology of Krill Euphausia superba, Proceedings of the Seminar and Report of Krill Ecology Group, Editor S. B. Schnack, pages 199-215

KILS U 1983 Swimming and feeding of Antarctic Krill, Euphausia superba - some outstanding energetics and dynamics - some unique morphological details. In: Berichte zur Polarforschung, Alfred Wegener Institut fuer Polarforschung, Sonderheft 4 (1983) On the biology of Krill Euphausia superba, Proceedings of the Seminar and Report of Krill Ecology Group, Editor S. B. Schnack, pages 130 -155 and title page image

ALBERTI G & KILS U 1983 Light- and Electron Microscopical Studies on the Anatomy and function of the Gills of Krill (Euphausiacea, Crustacea) Polar Biol 1: 233-242

McCLATCHIE S & BOYD C 1983 Morphological study of seive efficiencies and mandibular surface in the Antarctic krill Euphausia superba - Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 40: 955-967

HAMNER W M,  HAMMNER PP,  STRAND S W, GILMER R W 1983 Behavior of Antarctic krill  Euphausia superba: Chemoreception, feeding, schooling and molting - Science 220:433-435

BOYD C M, HEYRAUD M, BOYD C N1984 Feeding of Antarctic krill  Euphausia superba - Journal of Crustacean Biology 4 (special volume no. 1): 123-141

HAMNER W M  1984 Aspects of schooling in Euphausia superba - Journal of Crustacean Biology 4 (special volume no. 1): 67-74

QUETIN L B & ROSS R M 1985 Feeding by : Does size matter? In :SIEGFRIED W R, CONDRY P R LAWS R M eds.., Antarctic nutrient cycles and food webs. p 372-377 Springer Verlag Berlin

EL-SAYED S 1985 Plankton of the Antarctic Seas. In: ANTARCTICA - Key Environments, Ed. BONNER W & WALTON D, Pergamon Press, Oxford pp 135 - 154

ROSS R M & QUETIN L B 1986 How productive are Antarctic krill? Bioscience, 36(4), 264-269

MARSCHALL P 1988 The overwintering strategy of Antarctic krill under the pack ice of the Weddell Sea - Polar Biol 9: 129 - 135

HAMNER B 1988 Biomechanics of filter feeding in the Antarctic krill  Euphausia superba: Review of past work and new observations. Journal of Crustacean Biology 8 (2) 149-163

KILS U 1988 Was hat der Nord-Ostsee-Kanal mit der Antarktisforschung zu tun? - Mitteilungen des Canal-Vereins 9:161-165

MILLER D G  & HAMPTON I 1989 Biology and ecology of the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba): a review. BIOMASS Vol. 9, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Cambridge, England, 168pp.

NICOL S 1989 Who's counting on krill? New Scientist, 1690: 38-41.

NICOL S 1991 The age-old problem of krill longevity. Bioscience, 40 (11), 833-836.

SIEGEL DA GRANATA TC MICHAELS AF DICKEY TD 1990 Mesoscale eddy diffusion, particle sinking, and the interpretation of sediment trap data. Journal of Geophysical Research 95 5305 - 5311

NICOL S & de la MARE W K 1993 Ecosystem management and the Antarctic krill. American Scientist 81 (No. 1), pp. 36-47.

KILS U & MARSCHALL P 1995Der Krill, wie er schwimmt und frisst - neue Einsichten mit neuen Methoden (The antarctic krill - feeding and swimming performances - new insights with new methods) In Hempel I, Hempel G, Biologie der Polarmeere - Erlebnisse und Ergebnisse (Biology of the polar oceans) Fischer Jena - Stuttgart - New York, 201-207 (and images p 209-210)

JOCHEM F 1998 Eis und Biologie. mare 6, 76 - 78

KINNEAR J & MARTIN M 2000 Nature of Biology Book 1, 2nd edition John Wiley & Sons Australia 0-545


info about RUTGERSthe State University of New Jersey

info about the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences IMCS

info about Uwe Kils

For registration-interest and other time suggestion email

class copyrights RUTGERS IMCS and  AWI and gotthilf hempel and uwe kils

images copyrights mare and AWI and bjoern kils and uwe kils

back to uwe's server

university dr. habil. prof. professor biological oceanography fisheries biology associated rutgers insitute of marine and coastal sciences imcs usa marine biology institut fuer meereskunde distance teaching biological oceanography special class hands on science meeresbiologisches praktikum PHOTON generation PHOTON detection PHOTON communication PHOTON quantification photonics laurin publication jacques yves cousteau park cousteau society distance teaching distance learning video conferencing video conference cyberschool fishschool planktology fishnet communication fisch schule fisch schwarm biologie der Polarmeere europa moon europa mond vostok vostock unter eis photographie under ice imaging nasa esa whoi gotthilf hempel joseph menke jupp menke jupp kils uwe kils david and lucile packard lucile and david packard melinda and bill gates bill and melinda gates foundation ozeanography reisen antarktis travel travells travels lehre forschung scienceplus natureplus nature science magazine magazin