Ross Sea Benthic Monitoring Program: new non-destructive and machine-learning approaches for the analysis of benthos patterns and dynamics

The need of robust baselines from which to measure future changes in Antarctica has been widely recognized by the scientific community as a
research priority. In this perspective, the SCAR-ANTOS Expert Group, a biologically focussed initiative aiming at tracking environmental
variability and changes, proposed some scientifically robust and logistically feasible solutions to monitor near-shore environments, such as
underwater photogrammetry on permanent transects. The main aim of the research proposal “RosS-BMP” is to contribute to ANTOS by further
implementing photogrammetric techniques and by applying new algorithms, originally developed for computer vision, to drive automation in
photogrammetry and machine learning, hence greatly reducing time-consumption and human error in images’ interpretation. The project will also
enlarge the geographical scope of a previously funded PNRA project (2013/AZ1.16) which established the first permanent transects for biological
monitoring in Tethys Bay (Terra Nova Bay area, TNB), by adding more permanent transects. These will be established in Adelie Cove (TNB area)
but also in the McMurdo area. This latter point will be achieved thanks to the collaboration with NZ colleagues who will adopt the same protocols
for photogrammetry and subsequent analyses developed by the “RosS-BMP” project. Overall, the present proposal will produce unprecedented
biological information about macrobenthic species at the study sites, enabling informative temporal and spatial comparisons. The “RosS-BMP”
outcomes will be made available for the ANTOS community and will represent a standard technique for non-destructive monitoring activities in
other coastal areas around the Antarctic continent. The data produced will not only be relevant to ANTOS, but fundamental to understand
long-term variability in the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area as required by the Annex 91-05/B of the CCAMLR CM 91-05.


25 Months

Financial Institution