Antarctica's contemporary terrestrial biota have adapted to the continent's environmental challenges over many millions of years. It now faces the twin challenges of the multiple aspects of global and regional environmental change and the direct impacts of human presence and activity. Most native terrestrial biota possess wide physiological and ecological flexibility, well beyond the expected scale of environmental change over the next century and, when considered in isolation, are likely to show positive responses to environmental ameliorations, particularly the combination of increased thermal energy and liquid water availability, through increased production, populations, local distribution extent, and community complexity. However, over this timescale other, direct, human impacts on Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity are likely to have greater and negative consequences. Major sources of such impacts are likely to come through physical damage to the limited available area of terrestrial habitats, and the anthropogenic introduction of non-native species, a proportion of which are likely to become invasive and act as ecosystem engineers.
Authors: Convey, Peter ORCID record for Peter Convey