Keynote Presentation (30 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

KEYNOTE: Antarctic biodiversity in peril (#36)

Nerida Wilson 1 2 3
  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia
  2. Securing Antarctica's Environmental Future, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool, WA, Australia
  3. Collections & Research, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool, WA, Australia

Climate change is putting significant pressure on Southern Ocean ecosystems and their constituent biodiversity. Since these regions are remote to most human habitation, we are not well-placed to make systematic observations, or to monitor change or compliance.  There is a need to integrate novel and emerging technologies to provide more robust data and there is a need to fast-track new knowledge into policy at a much faster rate than before. However, for biodiversity, we are starting from a fairly flimsy foundation. The existing biodiversity data available from the Southern Ocean has substantial pitfalls that restrict its utility, and our current rate of taxonomic work is not appropriate for the task at hand. Before any future climate-related predictions have any meaningful ecological power, we first need to understand what biodiversity exists and where it is distributed. Additional understanding on evolutionary drivers may also provide context for responses to future changes. To be able to conserve and manage Antarctic biodiversity into the future, we need to harness all available tools, work across disciplines where possible, and stay positive.