An Antarctic scientist from Keighley has headed to Chile for her latest expedition.

Dr Cath Waller is spending the month at a marine station in Las Cruces, Chile, researching bryozoans – microscopic creatures that make their homes on rocks and other surfaces.

She is investigating the impact of inter-tidal and sub-tidal waters on the creatures and monitoring the effects of climate change.

Dr Waller, who grew up in Keighley and now lectures at Scarborough campus of Hull University, said: “Bryozoans have been largely overlooked when it comes to research, but how they respond to changes in their environment can have a big impact on other species.

“For example, if there are fewer bryozoans on a piling, then there could be more seaweed instead. That could mean fewer mussels are able to grow and that in turn could affect the bird population.

“It is often the smallest life forms that give us the biggest clues to what is going on in the world.” The site in Chile is one of several across the world that are part of Assemble – Association of European Marine Biological Laboratories – programme.

The stations give scientists access to the local marine environment and research facilities for experiments in and out of water.

Lodgings are basic, but still outshine the eight-week stints in a tent Dr Waller is more used to during her Antarctic trips.

She will be keeping in touch with her students via social media while in Chile.

Dr Waller has been a lecturer in the Scarborough Centre for Environmental and Marine Science for four years. She teaches with an emphasis on polar environments and global change.