THEME 1: Assessments of status and trends in habitats, species and ecosystems, and the causes of change

The specific objective for Theme 1 is to assess status and trends (and key uncertainties/gaps) in habitats, species and food webs, and their causes of change, in Southern Ocean ecosystems, including for

  1. benthos
  2. microbes
  3. zooplankton
  4. krill
  5. fish & squid
  6. birds
  7. marine mammals

This theme wishes to advance a report on the state of the Southern Ocean ecosystem as a contribution to the ACCE, IPCC, CCAMLR, CEP, IWC, ACAP among other end-users.  It will build on the results of the  Southern Ocean GLOBEC program, the ACCE report, the SCAR Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean and work in ICED,  CLIOTOP, SCAR's AntEco and AnT-ERA, a number of the SCAR expert groups within Life Sciences (see the SCAR website) and

Key concepts and possible conclusions, along with summary figures, tables and key references will be compiled in a compendium in advance of the conference.  Presentations and posters are invited to contribute to these assessments at the conference.  

Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE) Report

The ACCE report is developed by a SCAR Group of Experts, with the original report being published in 2009 (Turner et al 2009) and followed by updates to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting each year.  It now has its own wiki to provide the most up-to-date version of the report.  The Group of Experts is led by Dr. John Turner, British Antarctic Survey.

Marine ecosystems are considered in the following sections of the report (links take you to the marine biological sections, while habitats and environment can be reviewed in other sections of the report)

  1. The Antarctic environment and the global system
  2. Observations, data accuracy and tools
  3. Antarctic Climate and environment history in the pre-instrumental period
  4. The Instrumental Period (marine biology, carbon cycle)
  5. The next 100-years (marine biology, ecosystemscarbon cycle)
  6. Recommendations

Assessment of habitats

Habitats comprise physical and biological features important to species and assemblages.  For this assessment, habitats are confined, primarily, to important physical factors along with locations of productivity.  Biogenic features, such as reef-building organisms (often-termed as habitat-forming biota) will be included as appropriate. 

A habitat assessment has the following steps (here, the focus is on physical factors):

  1. Identify important physical parameters that can be summarised as an attribute of habitat of one or more species
  2. Identify the attributes to be derived from one or more parameters that are important to the species e.g. temperature thresholds important to the success of species
  3. Identify the quantity/quantities for expressing the status and trends of the attributes
  4. Establish links to the appropriate datasets and extract the quantities for presentation

Assessment of species

Typically, an assessment of status and trends of a species will be based on an estimate of abundance and how it is changing.  These assessments may be from statistical models of time series of abundance or from dynamic population models fit to abundance data.  For some species, changes in density at one or more locations have been used.  Spatial and temporal scales are important to consider in these assessments.

Assessments of food webs/ecosystems

Assessments of change in food webs or ecosystems as a whole are more difficult.  An important issue to consider is whether the system may experience non-linear responses and feedbacks such that alternative stable states (hysteresis) may arise.  This type of assessment will be considered at the conference.

Contact us

Inquiries about presentations to this theme or possible contributions of summaries to contribute to the compendium in advance of the conference - go to the Contact page and send us your inquiry.

General references

Turner, J., R. Bindschadler, P. Convey, G. di Prisco, E. Fahrbach, J. Gutt, D. Hodgson, P. Mayewski and C. Summerhayes, Eds. (2009). Antarctic climate change and the environment: A contribution to the International Polar Year 2007-2008. Cambridge. , Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

De Broyer, C., P. Koubbi, H. Griffiths, B. Raymond, C. d'Udekem d'Acoz, A. Van de Putte, B. Danis, B. David, S. Grant, J. Gutt, C. Held, G. Hosie, F. Huettmann, A. Post and Y. Ropert-Coudert (2014). Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean. Cambridge UK, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

Nymand Larson, J., O. Anisimov, A. J. Constable, A. Hollowed, N. Maynard, P. Prestrud, T. Prowse and J. Stone (2014). Chapter 28: Polar Regions. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.  Report of Working Group II. C. B. Field and R. B. Barros. San Francisco, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2: 71 pp.

Constable, A. J., J. Melbourne-Thomas, S. P. Corney, K. R. Arrigo, C. Barbraud, D. K. A. Barnes, N. L. Bindoff, P. W. Boyd, A. Brandt, D. P. Costa, A. T. Davidson, H. W. Ducklow, L. Emmerson, M. Fukuchi, J. Gutt, M. A. Hindell, E. E. Hofmann, G. W. Hosie, T. Iida, S. Jacob, N. M. Johnston, S. Kawaguchi, N. Kokubun, P. Koubbi, M.-A. Lea, A. Makhado, R. A. Massom, K. Meiners, M. P. Meredith, E. J. Murphy, S. Nicol, K. Reid, K. Richerson, M. J. Riddle, S. R. Rintoul, W. O. Smith, C. Southwell, J. S. Stark, M. Sumner, K. M. Swadling, K. T. Takahashi, P. N. Trathan, D. C. Welsford, H. Weimerskirch, K. J. Westwood, B. C. Wienecke, D. Wolf-Gladrow, S. W. Wright, J. C. Xavier and P. Ziegler (2014). "Climate change and Southern Ocean ecosystems I: how changes in physical habitats directly affect marine biota." Global Change Biology 20(10): 3004-3025.

Gutt, J., N. Bertler, T. J. Bracegirdle, A. Buschmann, J. Comiso, G. Hosie, E. Isla, I. R. Schloss, C. R. Smith, J. Tournadre and J. C. Xavier (2015). "The Southern Ocean ecosystem under multiple climate change stresses - an integrated circumpolar assessment." Global Change Biology 21(4): 1434-1453.

Cavanagh, R. D., E. J. Murphy, T. J. Bracegirdle, J. Turner, C. A. Knowland, S. P. Corney, W. O. Smith, C. M. Waluda, N. M. Johnston, R. G. J. Bellerby, A. J. Constable, D. P. Costa, E. E. Hofmann, J. A. Jackson, I. J. Staniland, D. Wolf-Gladrow and J. C. Xavier (2017). "A Synergistic Approach for Evaluating Climate Model Output for Ecological Applications." Frontiers in Marine Science 4(308).

Constable, A. J., J. Melbourne-Thomas, R. Trebilco, A. J. Press and M. Haward (2017). ACE CRC Position Analysis: Managing change in Southern Ocean ecosystems. Hobart, Australia, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre: 39 pp.

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