The Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean

Background

The Southern Ocean waters to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula are warming faster than almost any other place on Earth. This area of most rapid environmental change was among others targeted by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life in its collection of biogeographic information. Such biogeographic information is of fundamental importance for monitoring biodiversity, discovering biodiversity hotspots, defining ecoregions and detecting the impacts of environmental changes. It is the preliminary and necessary step in designing marine protected areas in a changing ocean. At the end of five years of extensive biodiversity exploration and assessment by CAML (www.caml.aq) and the OBIS Antarctic Node (the SCAR Marine Biodiversity Information Network, www.scarmarbin.be), a new initiative, the multi-authored "CAML Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean", has been established under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) to provide an up-to-date synthesis of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic biogeographic knowledge and to make available a new comprehensive online resource for visualisation, analysis and modelling of species distribution. It will constitute a major scientific output of CAML and SCAR-MarBIN as well as being a significant legacy of CoML and the International Polar Year to fulfill the needs of biogeographic information for science, conservation, monitoring and sustainable management of the changing Southern Ocean. It will be of direct benefit to the Antarctic Treaty and associated bodies such as the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

 

Objectives

Establish - on the basis of an unprecedented amount, diversity and quality of biogeographic and environmental data - a new synthesis of the biogeography of the Southern Ocean (patterns and processes), covering benthos, zooplankton, nekton, birds and seals, to provide a benchmark of biogeographic knowledge at the end of CAML, and to help define the present biogeochemical and biogeographic provinces and to predict future changes under various climate change scenarios.
Model predictive distribution of species and assemblages according to abiotic factors. Develop dynamic editions of the Atlas, including a dedicated webportal and an e-book, connected to a world network of interoperable databases, and offering advanced functionalities for access to original occurrence and environmental data, customized mapping, data visualisation and analysis, to contribute to the ecoregionalisation process and the modelling of predictive distribution of species and assemblages in the context of environmental changes.