nerc.ac.uk

Antarctic terrestrial life – challenging the history of the frozen continent?

Convey, Peter; Gibson, John A.E.; Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter; Hodgson, Dominic A.; Pugh, Philip J.A.; Smellie, John L.; Stevens, Mark I.. 2008 Antarctic terrestrial life – challenging the history of the frozen continent? Biological Reviews, 83 (2). 103-117. 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2008.00034.x

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Abstract/Summary

Antarctica is a continent locked in ice, with almost 99.7% of current terrain covered by permanent ice and snow, and clear evidence that, as recently as the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), ice sheets were both thicker and much more extensive than they are now. Ice sheet modelling of both the LGM and estimated previous ice maxima across the continent give broad support to the concept that most if not all currently ice-free ground would have been overridden during previous glaciations. This has given rise to a widely held perception that all Mesozoic (pre-glacial) terrestrial life of Antarctica was wiped out by successive and deepening glacial events. The implicit conclusion of such destruction is that most, possibly all, contemporary terrestrial life has colonised the continent during subsequent periods of glacial retreat. However, several recently emerged and complementary strands of biological and geological research cannot be reconciled comfortably with the current reconstruction of Antarctic glacial history, and therefore provide a fundamental challenge to the existing paradigms. Here, we summarise and synthesise evidence across these lines of research. The emerging fundamental insights corroborate substantial elements of the contemporary Antarctic terrestrial biota being continuously isolated in situ on a multi-million year, even pre-Gondwana break-up timescale. This new and complex terrestrial Antarctic biogeography parallels recent work suggesting greater regionalisation and evolutionary isolation than previously suspected in the circum-Antarctic marine fauna. These findings both require the adoption of a new biological paradigm within Antarctica and challenge current understanding of Antarctic glacial history. This has major implications for our understanding of the key role of Antarctica in the Earth System.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2008.00034.x
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Glacial Retreat in Antarctica and Deglaciation of the Earth System
BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Climate and Chemistry - Forcings and Phasings in the Earth System
BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Greenhouse to Icehouse. Evolution of the Antarctic Cryosphere and Palaeoenvironment
BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Biodiversity, Functions, Limits and Adaptation from Molecules to Ecosystems
ISSN: 1464-7931
Additional Keywords: Glacial history, Biogeography, Endemism, Isolation, Molecular phylogeny, Nunatak, Phylogeography, Refugia
NORA Subject Terms: Glaciology
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 10 Jun 2008 12:50
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3212

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item