Refuges of Antarctic diversity
Published this month we present a chapter on glacial refuges of Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity in the book "Past Antarctica: Paleoclimatology and Climate Change".
Biological research over the last decades has revealed that many of Antarctica's terrestrial biota are endemic to the continent, with nearly every group (invertebrates, microbes, plants) including species which show signals of Antarctic survival on multi-million-year timescales. Some species even show evidence that their Antarctic presence pre-dates the final breakup of Gondwana and the geographic isolation of Antarctica.
For terrestrial life to have existed continuously on the continent over these timescales, appropriate ice-free land must have existed through the multiple glacial cycles that took place throughout the Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene eras. In the new chapter, we discuss the evolutionary history of terrestrial life in Antarctica, evidence from glacial reconstructions, as well as the requirement for refugia across all biogeographical regions of Antarctica. We also discuss the likely form that such refugia may have taken, from nunataks, geothermal areas, glacier surfaces, subglacial habitats and cryptobiosis.
For more information see:
Convey, P., Biersma, E.M., Casanova-Katny, A., Maturana, C.S. (2020) Chapter 13: Refuges of Antarctic Biodiversity. In: "Past Antarctica" (ed. J.R. Fernandez). https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-817925-3.00010-0
Hi! I am Elise Biersma, an evolutionary biologist studying polar plants and microbes.