A founding principle of the Antarctic Treaty is that, in the interests of all humankind, Antarctica should continue to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and should not become the scene or object of international discord. From many standpoints, Antarctica is considered as a sanctuary, and plays a pivotal role in the global system. From an ecological point of view, Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean harbor exceptional levels of biodiversity. Its ecosystems are, however, facing rapid climatic and environmental changes, and the scientific community, embodied by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), have identified the urgent need to understand the potential responses of these ecosystems. Such questions are extremely complex, as biodiversity, here defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992), can vary at many different spatio-temporal scales and levels of biological organization, from molecules to entire ecosystems.
Authors: Danis, Bruno, Van de Putte, Anton, Convey, Peter ORCID record for Peter Convey, Griffiths, Huw ORCID record for Huw Griffiths, Linse, Katrin ORCID record for Katrin Linse, Murray, Alison E.