Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

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Chown S.L.,Stellenbosch University | Chown S.L.,Monash University | Lee J.E.,Stellenbosch University | Hughes K.A.,British Antarctic Survey | And 25 more authors.
Science | Year: 2012

Changing environments and resource demands present challenges to Antarctic conservation.


Convey P.,Natural Environment Research Council | Convey P.,University of Malaya | Chown S.L.,Monash University | Clarke A.,Natural Environment Research Council | And 20 more authors.
Ecological Monographs | Year: 2014

Patterns of environmental spatial structure lie at the heart of the most fundamental and familiar patterns of diversity on Earth. Antarctica contains some of the strongest environmental gradients on the planet and therefore provides an ideal study ground to test hypotheses on the relevance of environmental variability for biodiversity. To answer the pivotal question, ''How does spatial variation in physical and biological environmental properties across the Antarctic drive biodiversity?'' we have synthesized current knowledge on environmental variability across terrestrial, freshwater, and marine Antarctic biomes and related this to the observed biotic patterns. The most important physical driver of Antarctic terrestrial communities is the availability of liquid water, itself driven by solar irradiance intensity. Patterns of biota distribution are further strongly influenced by the historical development of any given location or region, and by geographical barriers. In freshwater ecosystems, free water is also crucial, with further important influences from salinity, nutrient availability, oxygenation, and characteristics of ice cover and extent. In the marine biome there does not appear to be one major driving force, with the exception of the oceanographic boundary of the Polar Front. At smaller spatial scales, ice cover, ice scour, and salinity gradients are clearly important determinants of diversity at habitat and community level. Stochastic and extreme events remain an important driving force in all environments, particularly in the context of local extinction and colonization or recolonization, as well as that of temporal environmental variability. Our synthesis demonstrates that the Antarctic continent and surrounding oceans provide an ideal study ground to develop new biogeographical models, including life history and physiological traits, and to address questions regarding biological responses to environmental variability and change. © 2014 by the Ecological Society of America.


Howard-Williams C.,NIWA - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research | Hawes I.,Research Solutions | Gordon S.,Antarctica New Zealand
Antarctic Science | Year: 2010

After a decade of research, New Zealands Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP) now includes primary sites from Cape Hallett (72°S) to the Darwin Glacier (80°S), while additional observations extend the latitudinal transect from 84°S to sub-Antarctic regions. The LGP has been structured around a hypothesis that, in a frigid continent, ice dynamics is the key ecosystem variable. For terrestrial environments, two aspects of ice dynamics appear to underlie much of the observed variability. Firstly, the aridity of the region makes the transition from ice to water a key ecological factor, and secondly, the legacy of ice dynamics dating as far back as the Pliocene is imprinted on biogeography. These factors operate at difference temporal and spatial scales and neither is monotonically related to latitude. Both are also complicated by meso-scale cross gradients of altitude and distance from the sea and micro-scale local variability. Whilst climate does vary on a broad-scale, differences within the northern and central parts of Victoria Land that the LGP has so far examined are insufficient to impose any overarching effect that can overwhelm these more local effects. The result is a multiple-scale patchwork of habitats and communities, more or less replicated across the transect, in which variability at any given latitude generally exceeds variability between latitudes. A lesser quantum of research has been directed at marine ecosystems, but here there is a similar picture of local variability dominating within the Ross Sea, with significant latitude-scale effects only emerging when transects are extended into maritime- and sub-Antarctic regions. It is implicit, but not specifically recognized in the LGP context, that a further confounding effect on the interpretation of 'transect' information is the multiple stressor concept that requires a simultaneous analysis of interacting (synergistic or antagonistic) factors and environmental responses. As the LGP continues to extend further south, climate is expected to become more extreme, and water availability may change sufficiently for loss of habitat and species diversity to occur. Here we discuss options for refining the LGP approach to optimize its potential for understanding variability, and the factors underpinning this, in the Ross Sea Sector. Copyright © 2010 Antarctic Science Ltd.


Lyver P.O'B.,Landcare Research | Barron M.,Landcare Research | Barton K.J.,Bartonk Solutions | Ainley D.G.,H. T. Harvey and Associates Ecological Consultants | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Measurements of the size of Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colonies of the southern Ross Sea are among the longest biologic time series in the Antarctic. We present an assessment of recent annual variation and trends in abundance and growth rates of these colonies, adding to the published record not updated for more than two decades. High angle oblique aerial photographic surveys of colonies were acquired and penguins counted for the breeding seasons 1981-2012. In the last four years the numbers of Adélie penguins in the Ross and Beaufort Island colonies (southern Ross Sea metapopulation) reached their highest levels since aerial counts began in 1981. Results indicated that 855,625 pairs of Adélie penguins established breeding territories in the western Ross Sea, with just over a quarter (28%) of those in the southern portion, constituting a semi-isolated metapopulation (three colonies on Ross Island, one on nearby Beaufort Island). The southern population had a negative per capita growth rate of -0.019 during 1981-2000, followed by a positive per capita growth rate of 0.067 for 2001-2012. Colony growth rates for this metapopulation showed striking synchrony through time, indicating that large-scale factors influenced their annual growth. In contrast to the increased colony sizes in the southern population, the patterns of change among colonies of the northern Ross Sea were difficult to characterize. Trends were similar to southern colonies until the mid-1990s, after which the signal was lost owing to significantly reduced frequency of surveys. Both climate factors and recovery of whale populations likely played roles in the trends among southern colonies until 2000, after which depletion of another trophic competitor, the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni), may explain the sharp increasing trend evident since then. © 2014 Lyver et al.

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