Editorial: Global change and Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity
Hogg, I.D. & Wall, D.H. (2011). Editorial: Global change and Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity. Polar Biology, 34(11), 1625-1627.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5866
Over the past 50 years, portions of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands have experienced some of the most rapid increases in mean air temperatures on Earth. For example, recent data released by NASA have shown that mean annual air temperatures over the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) have already increased by roughly 1°C and more than 2°C in the maritime Antarctic (e.g. Turner et al. 2005). Over the same period, introductions of nonindigenous species have also continued to increase particularly in the sub-Antarctic islands (Frenot et al. 2005). While ongoing debate, often politically motivated, continues to dominate discussion of climate change and its impacts, it is virtually certain that temperature increases and species’ introductions will intensify and continue to influence Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems over the next 50 years. Other human activities such as increasing numbers of tourists and scientists will affect the present terrestrial systems as well as those newly revealed as a result of glacial melt. Collectively, these changes will influence Antarctica’s biodiversity and ecosystem functioning as well as the corresponding feedbacks to glaciers, freshwater systems and the atmosphere. Thus, it is urgent that we develop a strong knowledge base for Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems and use this to identify ecosystem change (NAS 2011).