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

 

Interest Rates: RBNZ Hikes OCR To 3.5%, ‘Period Of Assessment’ Now Needed

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler raised the official cash rate as expected, while signalling a pause in rate hikes to assess the impact of moves so far this year. The kiwi dollar sank after Wheeler said its strength was “unjustified” and that the currency could have “a significant fall.” More>>

ALSO:

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Warming: Warming Signs From State Of Climate Report

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 'reflect trends of a warming planet' -- says the latest State of the Climate report, launched by U.S. and New Zealand scientists. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Embrace Falling Home Affordability, Says NZIER

Despair over the inability to afford a house is misplaced and should be embraced as an opportunity to invest in more wealth-creating activity, says the principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub. More>>

Productivity Commission: NZ Regulation Not Keeping Pace

New Zealand regulators often have to work with out-of-date legislation, quality checks are under strain, and regulatory workers need better training and development. More>>

ALSO:

Callaghan Innovation: Investment To Help Deepen Innovation Reporting

Callaghan Innovation, the government’s high tech HQ for Kiwi business, is to help deepen New Zealand media coverage of the commercialisation of innovation through an arms-length partnership with independent business news service BusinessDesk. More>>

ALSO:

Tax Credits, Grants: Greens $1Bn R&D Plan

In the Party’s headline economic announcement, the Greens have launched their plan to build a smarter, more innovative economy which has as its centrepiece an additional $1 billion of government investment in research and development (R&D) above current spend, including tax breaks for business. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news