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Insights on the environmental impacts associated with visible disturbance of ice-free ground in Antarctica

Citation

Brooks, ST and Tejedo, P and O'Neill, TA, Insights on the environmental impacts associated with visible disturbance of ice-free ground in Antarctica, Antarctic Science, 31, (6) pp. 304-314. ISSN 0954-1020 (2019) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

Antarctic Science Ltd 2019. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/}, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0954102019000440

Abstract

The small ice-free areas of Antarctica provide an essential habitat for most evident terrestrial biodiversity, as well as being disproportionately targeted by human activity. Visual detection of disturbance within these environments has become a useful tool for measuring areas affected by human impact, but questions remain as to what environmental consequences such disturbance actually has. To answer such questions, several factors must be considered, including the climate and biotic and abiotic characteristics. Although a body of research has established the consequences of disturbance at given locations, this paper was conceived in order to assess whether their findings could be generalized as a statement across the Antarctic continent. From a review of 31 studies within the Maritime Antarctic, Continental Antarctic and McMurdo Dry Valleys regions, we found that 83% confirmed impacts in areas of visible disturbance. Disturbance was found to modify the physical environment, consequently reducing habitat suitability as well as directly damaging biota. Visible disturbance was also associated with hydrocarbon and heavy metal contamination and non-native species establishment, reflecting the pressures from human activity in these sites. The results add significance to existing footprint measurements based on visual analysis, should aid on-the-ground appreciation of probable impacts in sites of disturbance and benefit environmental assessment processes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:contamination, footprint, habitat, non-native species, soil, wilderness
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental Science and Management
Research Field:Environmental Monitoring
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Ecosystem Assessment and Management
Objective Field:Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Environments
UTAS Author:Brooks, ST (Mr Shaun Brooks)
ID Code:136090
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2019-11-29
Last Modified:2020-04-28
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