Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most biologically rich island in Southern Ocean

Date:
May 31, 2011
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
The first comprehensive study of sea creatures around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia reveals a region that is richer in biodiversity than even many tropical sites, such as the Galapagos Islands. The study provides an important benchmark to monitor how these species will respond to future environmental change.

The first comprehensive study of sea creatures around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia reveals a region that is richer in biodiversity than even many tropical sites, such as the Galapagos Islands. The study provides an important benchmark to monitor how these species will respond to future environmental change.
Credit: British Antarctic Survey

The first comprehensive study of sea creatures around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia reveals a region that is richer in biodiversity than even many tropical sites, such as the Galapagos Islands. The study provides an important benchmark to monitor how these species will respond to future environmental change.

Reporting recently in the online journal PLoS ONE, the team from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), funded by the British Government's Darwin Initiative and the South Georgia Heritage Trust, describe how they examined over 130 years of polar records. About 1500 species were recorded showing South Georgia and its surrounding islands to be the richest area for marine life in the Southern Ocean.

Lead author Oliver Hogg from BAS says, "The biodiversity of South Georgia exceeds that of its nearest rivals such as the Galapagos and Equador in terms of the number of species inhabiting its shores. During the breeding season it hosts the densest mass of marine mammals on Earth."

Specimens were collected from scientific cruises, fisheries vessels and by scuba divers from the seas around South Georgia, famous for great polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition. Species identified include sea urchins, free-swimming worms, fish, sea spiders and crustaceans. Most are rare and many occur nowhere else on Earth.

The near-surface waters around South Georgia are some of the fastest warming on Earth so this study provides a framework to identify ecologically sensitive areas and species, identify conservation priorities and monitor future changes.

Oliver Hogg continues, "This is the first time anybody has mapped out the biodiversity of a small polar archipelago in the Southern Ocean. If we are to understand how these animals will respond to future change, a starting point like this is really important."

Highly diverse, poorly studied and uniquely threatened by climate change: an assessment of marine biodiversity on South Georgia's continental shelf by Oliver T Hogg, David K. A Barnes and Huw J. Griffiths is published online in PLoS ONE.

The sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia is one of the remotest outposts of Great Britain's overseas territories. Some 1445 species were recorded from 17,000 specimens forming part of this study. This research involved the study of over 25,000 records from polar explorations dating back to Victorian times.

Oceanographic measurements near South Georgia span most of the last century. Over the 81-year period (1925-2006) we observe significant warming a mean increase of 0.9C in January and 2.3C in August in the top 100m of the water column, but much less of a warming at 200m. However these warming levels are much greater than reported elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

The temperature of the ocean around Antarctica has increased by an average of 1C in the last 50 years. The atmospheric temperature on the Antarctica Peninsula has increased by 2.5C over the same time and is one of the most rapidly warming areas on the planet.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Antarctic Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Oliver T. Hogg, David K. A. Barnes, Huw J. Griffiths. Highly Diverse, Poorly Studied and Uniquely Threatened by Climate Change: An Assessment of Marine Biodiversity on South Georgia's Continental Shelf. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (5): e19795 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019795

Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Most biologically rich island in Southern Ocean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525181414.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2011, May 31). Most biologically rich island in Southern Ocean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525181414.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Most biologically rich island in Southern Ocean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525181414.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Shoppers at an Oregon drug store were surprised by a bear cub scurrying down the aisles this past weekend. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) The Johnson family lost their battle with the Chesterfield County, Virginia Planning Commission to allow Tucker, their pet pig, to stay in their home, but refuse to let the board keep Tucker away. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins