Atlas of Antarctic marine life

Cover of the Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean.
Cover of the Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean. (Photo: SCAR)

All creatures great and small, from the mighty whale to the miniature microbe, are included in the first comprehensive Atlas of Southern Ocean marine life, published in August by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

The Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean is the culmination of four years’ work by an international team of marine biologists and oceanographers from 22 countries, including scientists from Australia.

The 66 chapter Atlas includes more than 9000 Southern Ocean species, 800 maps and 100 colour photos. It examines the evolution, physical environment, genetics and possible impact of climate change on Southern Ocean organisms.

The information contained in the Atlas is based on data collected during the Australian-led Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) – a marine survey conducted during the International Polar Year in 2007 – as well as data gathered from past decades of research.

CAML leader and former Chief Scientist of the Australian Antarctic Division, Professor Michael Stoddart, said the Atlas would provide a baseline for assessing future change to Antarctic marine ecosystems, including the distribution of key species as they adapt to climate change.

‘Biogeographic information is fundamentally important for discovering marine biodiversity hotspots, detecting and understanding environmental changes, monitoring biodiversity, and supporting conservation and sustainable management strategies,’ Professor Stoddart said.

For more information see the Atlas website.