Antarctic marine benthic diversity: patterns and processes
Although biological work in the Southern Ocean extends back well over a century, studies in the past two decades have changed significantly our understanding of the ecology, diversity, biogeography and evolution of Antarctic marine benthos. Exploration of new areas coupled with an emphasis on primary taxonomy have resulted in the description of many new taxa, though continued work in the deep sea coupled with the further application of molecular techniques will undoubtedly add further to documented Antarctic diversity. We now recognise that the diversity of Antarctic continental shelves exceeds that of the Arctic, and is comparable with temperate and even some non-reef tropical shelves. Biogeographic regions have been refined, though the basic structure reflects that established over a century ago, and interdisciplinary work continues to deepen our understanding of the influence of climatic and tectonic changes in the evolution of the Antarctic marine fauna.