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Antarctic Biodiversity Informatics (EG-ABI)

Publications, Data and Links of interest to the Antarctic Biodiversity Informatics community

+ Projects

Current projects:

The SCAR/rOpenSci initiative

A collaboration with the rOpenSci community to improve resources for users of the R software package in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science: Activities include development of R packages and user guides, and hosting workshops (e.g.


Polar Omics Linkages Antarctic Arctic and Alpine Regions, which is the successor to the Microbial Antarctic Resource System (

The SCAR Southern Ocean Diet and Energetics project

In conjunction with EG-BAMM: Southern Ocean Diet and Energetics

Information related to diet and energy flow is fundamental to a diverse range of Antarctic and Southern Ocean biological and ecosystem studies. EG-ABI is collating a centralised database of such information to assist the scientific community in this work. It includes data related to diet and energy flow from conventional (e.g. gut content) and modern (e.g. molecular) studies, stable isotopes, fatty acids, and energetic content. It is a product of the SCAR community and open for all to participate in and use. Antarctic or Southern Ocean researchers holding such data, or interested in using such data in their work, are encouraged to make contact.

Analytical platforms

Building and managing analytical and collaborative platforms for the community to use, including the SCAR GitHub organisation space and contributing to the EU-Lifewatch virtual research environment platform.

Spatial modelling

A number of groups in the SCAR community are developing and applying methods for spatial biodiversity modelling, including species distribution and habitat selectivity models. Given the wide applicability and interest in these techniques, EG-ABI is working to improve collaboration within the community by helping with communication, access to software and data, and sharing of expertise. See for example these R packages for spatial modelling and animal tracking, marine environmental data layers for the Southern Ocean, and the SDMPlay R package for species distribution modelling.

The Register of Antarctic Species is an authoritative inventory of Antarctic and Southern Ocean organisms, and is part of the World Register of Marine Species. EG-ABI is contributing to this effort through training and helping collate additional trait information such as feeding and diet information, development, mobility and their importance to society, documented through Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem (VME) indicator taxa.

Past projects

Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data

The overarching goals of the RAATD project were to undertake a multi-species assessment of habitat use of Antarctic top predators in the Southern Ocean based on existing animal tracking data to identify Areas of Ecological Significance (AES), which are regions that are important for foraging to a range of predators and which have high diversity and abundance of lower trophic levels.

You can watch an animation of the tracks used for the RAATD project here:

The Microbial Antarctic Resource System

mARS is an open information system dedicated to facilitate the discovery, access and analysis of geo-referenced, molecular microbial diversity (meta)data generated by Antarctic researchers. It encompasses all free-living and host-associated viruses, bacteria, archaea, and singled-celled eukaryotes. mARS is composed of interoperable modules, iteratively building the microbial component of the infrastructure. The mARS initiative brings innovative perspectives to Antarctic microbial biodiversity research and its applications. Once mARS reaches full operability it is envisioned that new research areas in both basic and applied areas will be significantly enabled. For example, biogeography, bioprospecting, environmental impact, species introductions, and climate change-related studies will be made possible using a data-driven approach accessible through mARS. Also, mARS will allow the consolidation of a new community within SCAR and new perspectives for collaboration within and beyond SCAR. There is also significant potential for expanding the model for genetic work carried out on all organisms, allowing integrated studies on Antarctic biodiversity. The last mARS workshop took place in Brussels, in May 2014, to initiate beta-testing mARS to take it to Step 3, as described in the vision document.

Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean

The Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean was published in printed form in 2014. See

+ Publications

EG-ABI reports:

Hindell MA, Reisinger RR, Ropert-Coudert Y, et al. (2020) Tracking of marine predators to protect Southern Ocean ecosystems. Nature doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2126-y

Ropert-Coudert Y et al. (2020) The Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data Project. Nature Scientific Data doi:10.1038/s41597-020-0406-x

Schaafsma FL et al. (2018) Review: the energetic value of zooplankton and nekton species of the Southern
Ocean. Marine Biology doi:10.1007/s00227-018-3386-z

: The Retrospective Analysis of the Antarctic Tracking Data (RAATD) project has taken a big step forward. A team of data crunchers and modelers met at a joint EG-BAMM and EG-ABI meeting in Brussels to compile and standardise the datasets on the one hand, and to start processing them and choose modeling options on the other.

The meeting was hosted by the Belgian Science Policy Office in Brussels and was extremely successful: The project has now more than 2 million lines of data points from above 2000 individuals from 14 species of top predators covering almost all the Southern Ocean (see map attached). Report above.

2014: The Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean waters to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula are warming faster than almost any other place on Earth. This area of most rapid environmental change was among others targeted by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life in its collection of biogeographic information. Such biogeographic information is of fundamental importance for monitoring biodiversity, discovering biodiversity hotspots, defining ecoregions and detecting the impacts of environmental changes. It is the preliminary and necessary step in designing marine protected areas in a changing ocean.

At the end of five years of extensive biodiversity exploration and assessment by CAML ( and the OBIS Antarctic Node (the SCAR Marine Biodiversity Information Network,, a new initiative, the multi-authored "CAML Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean", has been established under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) to provide an up-to-date synthesis of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic biogeographic knowledge and to make available a new comprehensive online resource for visualisation, analysis and modelling of species distribution.

It will constitute a major scientific output of CAML and SCAR-MarBIN as well as being a significant legacy of CoML and the International Polar Year to fulfill the needs of biogeographic information for science, conservation, monitoring and sustainable management of the changing Southern Ocean. It will be of direct benefit to the Antarctic Treaty and associated bodies such as the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

+ Data

Search for Antarctic data in the Antarctic Metadata Directory.

The AMD is the central directory system containing all Antarctic data set descriptions gathered by national Antarctic data centres. For more information on Antarctic data management, visit the page of the SCAR Standing Committee on Antarctic Data Management.