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Describe the past, understand the present, predict the future

Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic: The Response of Life to Change (EBA) was an international, multidisciplinary, SCAR Scientific Research Programme under Life Sciences which ran from 2006 to 2013.  It combined the research communities and aims of earlier SCAR programmes RiSCC (Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change in Antarctic Terrestrial Ecosystems), EVOLANTA (Evolutionary Biology of Antarctic Organisms) and EASIZ (Ecology of the Antarctic Sea Ice Zone).  EBA also incorporated the work of active SCAR groups such as the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML), the Southern Ocean Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey (SO-CPR), SCAR-MarBIN, the Expert Group on Birds and Marine Mammals, and SCAR services like the Antarctic Biodiversity Database. All of these contributed in one way or another to EBA.

EBA sought to:

  1. Understand the evolution and diversity of life in the Antarctic;
  2. Determine how these have influenced the properties and dynamics of present Antarctic ecosystems and the Southern Ocean system;
  3. Make predictions on how organisms and communities are responding and will respond to current and future environmental change; and
  4. Identify EBA science outcomes that are relevant to conservation policy and communicate this science via the SCAR Antarctic Treaty System Committee.

The EBA team also worked closely with one if its sister SRPs, Antarctica and the Global Climate System (AGCS), to produce the 2009 landmark publication, the Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE) Report.

EBA also provided biological information of interest and use to Treaty Parties, which was fed into Treaty meetings and the activities of the Committee on Environmental Protection (CEP) and the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).


The Co-Chief Officers of EBA were Guido di Prisco (Italy) and Peter Convey (UK).

They were supported by Co-Secretaries José Xavier (Portugal) and Meghana Rajanahally (New Zealand), and Steering Committee members Angelika Brandt (Germany), Marc Lebouvier (France), Kathy Conlan (Canada), Michael Stoddart (CAML/Australia), Dana Bergstrom (Australia) and Louise Newman (APECS/Switzerland).

Work Packages

EBA’s key areas of marine, terrestrial and freshwater research were addressed through five Work Packages, each with defined sub-themes:

Work Package 1: Evolutionary history of Antarctic organisms
Leaders: Brigitte Ebbe (Germany), Katrin Linse (UK) and Dominic Hodgson (UK)

  • Vicariance and Radiations: When did the key radiations of Antarctic taxa take place?
  • Impact of glaciation on land (habitat modification/loss and timing and extent of isolation), and at sea (evolutionary links between continental shelf and slope or deep-sea species);
  • Phylogeography: geographical structure and relationships in the Antarctic biome;
  • Evolutionary history of Antarctic micro-organisms (both prokaryotic and eukaryotic).

Work Package 2: Evolutionary adaptation to the Antarctic environment
Leader: Takeshi Naganuma (Japan)

  • Limits to organism performance: adaptation to the Antarctic environment constraining physiological performance;
  • Physiological and genomic adaptations that allow organisms to survive in the Antarctic: the extent to which these are special to the Antarctic or simply variants of more general adaptations exhibited by organisms elsewhere;
  • Ability of Antarctic organisms to cope with daily, seasonal and longer-term environmental changes;
  • Behavioural and morpho-functional adaptations;
  • Adaptation and plasticity (genotype and phenotype).

Work Package 3: Patterns of gene flow and consequences for population dynamics: Isolation as a driving force
Leaders: Elie Poulin (Chile) and Ian Hogg (New Zealand)

  • Population structure and dynamics in the context of evolutionary biology;
  • Natural and anthropogenic dispersal processes: immigration and emigration of organisms; intra-Antarctic dispersal; the role of advective/transport processes in gene flow and population structure;
  • Genetic structure of populations: differences among and between Antarctic and non-Antarctic populations;
  • The extent to which populations of Antarctic organisms exist as metapopulations.

Work Package 4: Patterns and diversity of organisms, ecosystems and habitats in the Antarctic, and controlling processes
Leaders: Lúcia de Siqueira Campos (Brazil) and Satoshi Imura (Japan)

  • Spatial and temporal variations in diversity: variation of diversity at different spatial scales within the Antarctic and within defined time frames;
  • Response to latitudinal and environmental gradients: local, regional and global;
  • Radiations: history of key evolutionary radiations in the Antarctic;
  • Unknown areas: patterns of diversity and biotic composition of unexplored but important areas (e.g. deep sea, inland nunataks, subglacial lakes).

Work Package 5: Impact of past, current and predicted future environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem function
Leaders: Julian Gutt (Germany) and David Renault (France)

  • Interactions between introduced and indigenous species in selected environments under climate change;
  • Effect of abiotic change on biota;
  • Modelling interactions between environmental change and organism responses in order to predict biotic change;
  • Impact of biological feedback on climate.


pdf EBA Science Plan 2004 (149 KB)

pdf EBA Implementation Plan 2005 (58 KB)

pdf EBA Review 2008 (342 KB)

pdf EBA Annual Report 2008 (179 KB)

For a list of EBA publications, including some from predecessor programmes, see the EBA complete publications list.

For EBA Newsletters, see the Newsletters folder.


EBA submitted data to the Antarctic Master Directory, now known as the Antarctic Metadata Directory (AMD). Other EBA-related databases are:

Contributing Projects

For a list of projects which contributed to the EBA programme, see the list of supporting projects.