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Research theme: Species Ecosystems and Resources

The polar regions hold large natural resources and provide some of the most productive fisheries on Earth. However, polar environments and ecosystems are fragile and slow to recover when disturbed, activities in the polar regions must be carefully managed to minimise the impact on the environment.

Rapid rates of change in multiple stressors (ocean acidification, harvesting of marine resources, and climate change and consequential changes in ice conditions) in both polar regions are driving dramatic changes in the behaviour and physiology of species, on ecosystems and on biodiversity.  We are working in both regions to understand the impact of change and the ability of species and ecosystems to adapt and/or migrate. This understanding will allow us to improve our predictive capacity, observe vulnerable habitats and species, and inform sustainable management of marine resources.

Research achievements

  • quantifying changing environmental stress on species and communities
  • quantifying the adaptive responses of key species and the underpinning physiological and genetic processes
  • identifying, for the first time, the globally significant role played by the Southern Ocean zooplankton in mediating uptake of atmospheric carbon in the open ocean and coastal shallows
  • improving the representation of biological systems in Earth System Models and our predictions of future change in biodiversity across both polar regions and globally
  • state-of-the-art biophysical models to inform policy-makers on issues such as allowable catches, and establishment of Marine Protected Areas

Species, ecosystems and resources research projects

Our multidisplinary teams work on a range of programmes and projects including: