Mr Rob King: BSc (Hons)

Research interests

I study the keystone species of the Southern Ocean ecosystem – the Antarctic krill. My fascination for the sea developed through years of surfing and spear fishing in Tasmania during my youth. I trained in marine biology at James Cook University in northern Queensland and returned to Tasmania to begin a PhD examining feeding in Antarctic krill. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time, and in 1995 I was employed by the Australian Antarctic Division to design and operate a new aquarium, specifically built for research on Antarctic krill.

My work includes the design and operation of bespoke aquarium research systems, to meet the needs of national and international collaborators seeking to undertake research on Antarctic krill, either at sea or in our unique shore-based aquarium. I participate in marine science voyages to characterise the distribution and abundance of Antarctic krill and examine their behaviour and physiological responses, particularly to changes in ocean acidification and temperature.

I was the biology lead in the design of Australia’s new ice breaker, RSV Nuyina. The vessel includes a novel sampling system for krill and plankton, the wet well, which collects live specimens as gently as possible. The vessel also includes a containerised aquarium system which will interface with proposed shore-based aquarium infrastructure that the AAD is intending to construct in collaboration with the University of Tasmania in Hobart. This infrastructure will replace the existing aquarium and complete a seamless logistics pathway for scientific specimen capture through to long-term land-based aquarium research. This will enable far greater access to specimens for many more researchers and will increase research productivity in Southern Ocean marine biology.

Current projects

  • #4512: Ensuring sustainable management of the krill fishery in waters off the Australian Antarctic Territory
Key outcome areas

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)


Clarke, L.J. and Suter, L. and King, R. and Bissett, A. and Bestley, S. and Deagle, B.E. (2021) Bacterial epibiont communities of panmictic Antarctic krill are spatially structured, Molecular Ecology30(4): 1042-1052.

Burns, A.L. and Schaerf, T.M. and Lizier, J.T. and Kawaguchi, S. and Cox, M. and King, R. and Krause, J. and Ward, A.J.W. (2021) Self-organization and information transfer in Antarctic krill swarms, bioRxiv.

Perry FA, Kawaguchi S, Atkinson A, Sailley SF, Tarling GA, Mayor DJ, Lucas CH, King R and Cooper A (2020) Temperature–Induced Hatch Failure and Nauplii Malformation in Antarctic Krill. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:501. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00501

Suter, L. and Polanowski, A.M. and King, R. and Romualdi, C. and Sales, G. and Kawaguchi, S. and Jarman, S.N. and Deagle, B.E. (2019) Sex identification from distinctive gene expression patterns in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba, Polar Biology 42(12):2205-2217.

Murphy DW, Olsen D, Kanagawa M, King R, Kawaguchi S, Osborn J, Webster DR, Yen J (2019) The three dimensional spatial structure of Antarctic krill schools in the laboratory. Scientific Reports 9:381

Melvin JE, Kawaguchi S, King R, Swadling KM (2018) The carapace matters: refinement of the instantaneous growth rate method for Antarctic krill Euphausia superba Dana, 1850 (Euphausiacea). Journal of Crustacean Biology doi:10.1093/jcbiol/ruy069

Dawson A, Kawaguchi S, King C, Townsend K, King R, Huston W, and Bengtson Nash SM (2018) Turning Microplastics into Nanoplastics: Digestive Fragmentation by Antarctic krill. Nature Communications 9 (1), 1001. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03465-9

Meiners, K. M., Arndt, S., Bestley, S., Krumpen, T., Ricker, R., Milnes, M., Newbery, K., Freier, U., Jarman, S., King, R., Proud, R., Kawaguchi, S., and Meyer, B. (2017) Antarctic pack ice algal distribution: Floe-scale spatial variability and predictability from physical parameters. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074346.

Meyer M, Freier U, Grimm V, Groeneveld J,, Hunt BPV, Kerwath S, King R, Klaas C, Pakhomov E, Meiners KM, Melbourne-Thomas J, Murphy EJ, Thorpe1SE, Stammerjohn S, Wolf-Gladrow D, Auerswald L, Götz A, Halbach L, Jarman S, Kawaguchi S, Krumpen T, Nehrke G, Ricker R, Sumner M, Teschke M, Trebilco R, Yilmaz NI (2017) The winter pack-ice zone provides a sheltered but food-poor habitat for larval Antarctic krill. Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Kawaguchi, S. and Ishida, A. and King, R. and Raymond, B. and Waller, N. and Constable, A. and Nicol, S. and Wakita, M. and Ishimatsu, A. (2013) Risk maps for Antarctic krill under projected Southern Ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change 3(9): 843-847.

See more of Mr King's publications on Google Scholar.