Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Last chance to manage continental invasion-Antarctic expert

Last chance to manage continental invasion, Antarctic expert says

January 14, 2014


Click for big version.

Antarctica was protected from human contact until about a century ago but the threat of biological invasions continues to grow, visiting UK researcher to the University of Canterbury (UC) Professor Pete Convey of the British Antarctic Survey says.

For the last 100 years or so, humans have deliberately and accidentally carried all sorts of organisms around with them on the ice, he says.

In all of Antarctica, there are more than 200 documented examples of ‘alien’ species that are established, mostly on the sub-Antarctic islands, but around 10 percent are further south in the Antarctic proper.

``All known instances are most easily traced to national operations over the last 50 to 60 years, or the previous historical exploitation industries. Tourism is thus far a red herring here but all human movement to the continent carries a risk.

``We think that human assistance is responsible for more than 100 times the number of establishment events over the history of our contact with Antarctica than those linked to natural dispersal and colonisation.

``These numbers may seem low, but in the context of native diversity, on some sub-Antarctic islands there are as many species of introduced plants and invertebrates as there are native ones, this is a big biodiversity impact and threat in terms of the Rio Convention priorities, especially as much of the native Antarctic biology is unique.

``In parts of the Antarctic these numbers are now increasing more rapidly. In some parts this is compounded by climate change making conditions less extreme, meaning even more species could have the ability to transfer and survive.

``We are all aware of the impact of large grazing and predatory mammals and in reality new introductions of these are very unlikely, but plants and insects/invertebrates/microbes can be just as much a threat to Antarctic ecosystems, which are often unable to tolerate new competition or predators.

``A proportion of these invaders are likely to become ecosystem engineers, fundamentally or irreversibly changing the way that sub-Antarctic and Antarctic ecosystems work.

``Antarctica NZ's biosecurity education and procedures are amongst the clearest and best currently applied anywhere in Antarctica, and are looked at as a model by other countries.

``Also worth noting is that the main continent of Antarctica remains virtually unaffected by biological invasions but we are looking at future risk.

``This is the last chance we have to demonstrate that we can sensibly and effectively manage the threat of biological invasions at continental scale before they actually happen. This is now impossible with all other continents and significant landmasses globally.’’

Professor Convey is an Erskine visitor to UC. The Erskine Fellowship programme was established in 1963 following a generous bequest by former distinguished UC student John Erskine.

Through UC's Gateway Antarctica Professor Convey will give a public lecture on invasions in the Antarctic at UC on Thursday, January 16.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Trade Plans: Prime Minister's Speech To International Business Forum

"The work to improve public services, build infrastructure, and solve social problems is possible only because we have enjoyed sustained, solid economic growth. A big reason for that is the Government’s consistent agenda of economic reform, and our determination to open up more opportunities for trade with the world." More>>

ALSO:

Media: TVNZ Flags Job Cuts To Arrest Profit Decline

Chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the changes were aimed at creating "a sustainable future video content business for TVNZ in an ever-changing media market." More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: Wheeler Keeps OCR At 1.75%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.75 percent, as expected, and reiterated his view that the benchmark rate doesn't need shifting for the foreseeable future. More>>

ALSO:

Retail: Pumpkin Patch Brand, IP Sold To Catch Group

The receivers of failed children's clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch have confirmed that the company's brand and intellectual property have been sold to Australian online retailer Catch Group. More>>

ALSO:

Oil: 2017 Block Offer Petroleum Tender Launched

New Zealand is well-placed to take advantage of the economic benefits of oil and gas exploration, Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today at the launch of the 2017 Block Offer petroleum tender. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news