Aerobiology and colonization in Antarctica — the BIOTAS Programme

Little is known about the aerial transport of microbes, plants and animals into and between Antarctic terrestrial and freshwater habitats. Isolation by the circumpolar Southern Ocean restricts propagules to three main groups: 1) those capable of prolonged survival in the air, 2) those carried by animal vectors, especially Man, and 3) those of marine origin. Diverse ice-free areas available for colonization include: isolated islands with receding ice sheets (e.g., Signy Island), maritime geothermal areas (e.g., Deception Island), and high altitude gcothermal areas on continental volcanoes (e.g., Mt. Erebus). Propagule abundance and diversity are low in Antarctica. Chance affects colonization success because the potential and viability of a propagule must match a favourable habitat for settlement, with adequate time for establishment before conditions become unfavourable. Aerobiological studies of the whole Antarctic region require international co-operation. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Biological Investigations of Terrestrial Antarctic Systems (BIOTAS) research network has identified aerobiology as a major component of its International Research Programme. Aerobiology will be ground-, ship- and aircraft-based. To meet the requirements of an intrinsically sparse, diverse Antarctic aerobiota, the British Antarctic Survey is developing a new particle sampler for remote field use.


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Authors: Wynn-Williams, David D.

1 September, 1991
Grana / 30
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