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 0.9°C in January and 2.3°C 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 1°C in the last 50 years. The atmospheric temperature on the Antarctica Peninsula has increased by 2.5°C 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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) 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:
from the past week

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