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The spatial structure of Antarctic biodiversity

Convey, Peter; Chown, Steven L.; Clarke, Andrew; Barnes, David K.A.; Bokhorst, Stef; Cummings, Vonda; Ducklow, Hugh W.; Frati, Francesco; Green, T. G. Allan; Gordon, Shulamit; Griffiths, Huw J.; Howard-Williams, Clive; Huiskes, Ad H. L.; Laybourn-Parry, Johanna; Lyons Berry, W. ; McMinn, Andrew; Morley, Simon A.; Peck, Lloyd S.; Quesada, Antonio; Robinson, Sharon A.; Schiaparelli, Stefano; Wall, Diana H.. 2014 The spatial structure of Antarctic biodiversity. Ecological Monographs, 84 (2). 203-244. 10.1890/12-2216.1

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Abstract/Summary

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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1890/12-2216.1
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Ecosystems
BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Environmental Change and Evolution
ISSN: 0012-9615
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Census of Antarctic Marine Life contribution no. 86
Additional Keywords: adaptation, biogeography, environmental gradients, historical contingency, marine, spatial scale and variation, terrestrial environments
Date made live: 13 May 2014 11:09 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/507236

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