Global warming will catastrophically impact Antarctic species
Monday 12 February 2007
Senior ZSL scientist Dr Alex Rogers highlights the threat that climate change poses to a wide range of Antarctic species.
Speaking at ZSL’s scientific meeting on Evolution in the Marine Environment, Dr Rogers commented on the inability of many species to adapt to the current rapid increase in temperature in parts of the Antarctic, the rate of which is far greater than has been seen historically.
“Global warming is going to have a catastrophic effect on some species found in the Antarctic region,” commented Dr Rogers. “These species have adapted to cold and icy conditions over millions of years and some will not tolerate the increases in temperature that are being recorded. Many species will struggle to survive in this changing environment. Animals such as penguins, whales and seals depend on these species for food, so impacts will occur across entire marine ecosystems.”
Dr Rogers, together with colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey, has edited a new thematic issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society describing these ecosystem-wide changes to Antarctic ecosystems.
The scientific meeting will focus on patterns of evolution in marine species, including Antarctic animals such as Adelie penguins, seals and toothfish and animals from elsewhere such as whales, dolphins and fish. Dr Rogers added, “Man is having a dramatic effect on climate and this is likely to have a devastating effect on the wildlife of the Polar regions. Coupled with overexploitation of biological resources, failure to take action on global warming means that the situation will only deteriorate.”