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NSF-Funded Researcher Plucks Four Unknown Fish Species From Antarctic Waters

o live permanently in the water column, rather than on the bottom.

Based on his 20 years of research and his new discoveries, Eastman said that "as far as bottom habitats are concerned, sponge beds in Antarctica are the equivalent of coral reefs in the tropics; sites of high fish diversity."

Polly Penhale, who oversees medical and biological research for the U.S. Antarctic Program, said that Eastman's findings indicate that "future research is likely to lead to a greater appreciation of biodiversity in the polar regions."

Eastman's discoveries -- which include the first identification of a new species in the genus Artedidraco in 80 years -- occurred almost by chance. Eastman studies the anatomy of buoyancy and how it evolved in Antarctic fishes. "It wasn't my intention to look for new species," he noted.

During two separate research seasons, rocky bottoms ripped nets so that only half of 20 trawls in the Ross Sea reaped large numbers of fish. But the four new species were discovered in those 10 successful trawls.


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Contact: Peter West
pwest@nsf.gov
703-306-1070
National Science Foundation
4-Mar-1999


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