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pdf SCAR XXXI WP19b: Report on Proposed PPG Antarctic Ecosystems: Adaptations, Thresholds and Resilience (AntETR)

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SCAR XXXI WP19b: Report on Proposed PPG Antarctic Ecosystems: Adaptations, Thresholds and Resilience (AntETR)
XXXI SCAR Delegates Meeting
9-11 August 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina

SCAR XXXI WP19b: Report on Proposed PPG AntETR

Working Paper 19b
Agenda Item: 5.2
Person Responsible: Convey/Conlan

Executive Summary

(to be discussed and modified during SCAR Business Meetings)

Title: Antarctic Ecosystems: Adaptations, Thresholds and Resilience (AntETR)

Authors: Pete Convey, Dom Hodgson, Brent Sinclair, Kathleen Conlan on behalf of AntETR planning workshop group

Introduction/ Background: Antarctica is changing, and parts of it are changing very rapidly. Pressures on the Antarctic environment result mainly from global climate change, invasive species, human impacts, and extreme events. These stresses may be convergent, and their interactions can lead to threshold changes in communities, populations and individual organisms that may lead to widespread challenges to and changes in organism and ecosystem function. AntETR will examine the current biological processes in Antarctic ecosystems, to define their tolerance limits and thereby determine resistance and resilience to change.

Important Issues or Factors: The goal of AntETR is to define and facilitate the science required to determine the resistance, resilience and vulnerability to change of Antarctic biological systems. In particular, the science needs to determine the likelihood of cataclysmic shifts or “tipping points” in Antarctic ecosystems: How close to the cliff are we?

Recommendations/Actions and Justification:  To form a Programme Planning Group, AntETR

Expected Benefits/Outcomes: This program will facilitate engagement of Antarctic biologists across disciplines, nations and capacities, and will include interactions with CCAMLR and the SCAR Birds and Mammals Expert Group. We will contribute directly to the SC-ATS, allowing clear scientific information to be provided to CEP and the Antarctic Treaty system as a whole. The programme will integrate information from current projects and encourage new projects to identify stresses and their impacts on key biological processes. It will identify organism and ecosystem thresholds (vulnerability), their resilience to stress, and the implications of crossing biological thresholds. We will prioritise establishing links with physical scientists and modellers to inform predictions, and our focus on process will complement that of the proposed STATE programme, which addresses the origins and evolution of current large scale biological patterns.

Critical to the identification of tipping points will be the maintenance of long-term environmental data sets such as SOOS, with a key priority being the establishment of parallel observing systems in non-marine environments.


Budget Implications: $5000 a year for two years