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Antarctic ecosystems in transition - life between stresses and opportunities


Gutt, J and Isla, E and Xavier, JC and Adams, BJ and Ahn, I-Y and Cheng, C-HC and Colesie, C and Cummings, VJ and di Prisco, G and Griffiths, H and Hawes, I and Hogg, I and McIntyre, T and Meiners, KM and Pearce, DA and Peck, L and Piepenburg, D and Reisinger, RR and Saba, GK and Schloss, IR and Signori, CN and Smith, CR and Vacchi, M and Verde, C and Wall, DH, Antarctic ecosystems in transition - life between stresses and opportunities, Biological Reviews, 96, (3) pp. 798-821. ISSN 1464-7931 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 The Authors. Biological Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cambridge Philosophical Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes

DOI: doi:10.1111/brv.12679


Important findings from the second decade of the 21st century on the impact of environmental change on biological processes in the Antarctic were synthesised by 26 international experts. Ten key messages emerged that have stakeholder‐relevance and/or a high impact for the scientific community. They address (i) altered biogeochemical cycles, (ii) ocean acidification, (iii) climate change hotspots, (iv) unexpected dynamism in seabed‐dwelling populations, (v) spatial range shifts, (vi) adaptation and thermal resilience, (vii) sea ice related biological fluctuations, (viii) pollution, (ix) endangered terrestrial endemism and (x) the discovery of unknown habitats. Most Antarctic biotas are exposed to multiple stresses and considered vulnerable to environmental change due to narrow tolerance ranges, rapid change, projected circumpolar impacts, low potential for timely genetic adaptation, and migration barriers. Important ecosystem functions, such as primary production and energy transfer between trophic levels, have already changed, and biodiversity patterns have shifted. A confidence assessment of the degree of ‘scientific understanding’ revealed an intermediate level for most of the more detailed sub‐messages, indicating that process‐oriented research has been successful in the past decade. Additional efforts are necessary, however, to achieve the level of robustness in scientific knowledge that is required to inform protection measures of the unique Antarctic terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and their contributions to global biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adaptation, benthic dynamism, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, invasion, new habitats, ocean acidification, primary production, range shifts, sea ice
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Other biological sciences
Research Field:Global change biology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Meiners, KM (Dr Klaus Meiners)
ID Code:142655
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:33
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2021-02-04
Last Modified:2022-08-20
Downloads:13 View Download Statistics

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