Introduced plants in Antarctica: Potential impacts and conservation issues
The development of and compliance with the code of conduct embodied in the Antarctic Treaty to prevent or minimize the introduction of plants into the Antarctic is outlined. A chronological account of all known experimental and accidental introductions of higher plants in the field and their success and fate, if known, is given. The potential danger to the natural Antarctic ecosystem of importing plants rooted in their original soil is discussed with particular regard to the introduction of microorganisms, invertebrates and viable plant propagules. Unintentional dispersal of non-indigenous biota by human activities, and dispersal by natural agents (wind, birds) into and within the Antarctic, is assessed and numerous examples which contravened the measures of the Antarctic Treaty for the control of introduced biota are noted. The need for strict observance of the new Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty is emphasized.