Antarctic tourists and scientists may be inadvertently seeding the icy continent with invasive species, a new study says. Foreign plants such as annual bluegrass are establishing themselves on Antarctica, whose status as the coldest and driest continent had long made it one of the most pristine environments on Earth.
Pressures from climate change are exacerbating the challenges of human activity on Antarctica, as climate change is bringing milder conditions to these wildlife-rich areas, both on land and sea. As glaciers melt, new areas are exposed, which allows non-Antarctic species greater opportunity to establish and possibly outcompete locals for resources, such as nutrients and precious, ice-free space.
See also: Invasive non‐native species likely to threaten biodiversity and ecosystems in the Antarctic Peninsula region (Glob Chang Biol. 2020 Apr; 26(4): 2702–2716)
A species of king crab, Paralomis birsteini, on the continental slope off the Antarctic Peninsula. The discovery of the shell-breaking crustaceans has scientists worried about the threat to seafloor organisms on the continental shelf.