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Fine Scale Analysis of Changes in Bryophyte Community Structure over a Decade Long Study in East Antarctica

Fine Scale Analysis of Changes in Bryophyte Community Structure over a Decade Long Study in East Antarctica
Taylor Benny

Authors

Taylor Benny
University of Wollongong, Northfields Ave Wollongong NSW 2522
trb975@uowmail.edu.au

Professor Sharon Robinson
Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, University of Wollongong, Northfields Ave Wollongong NSW 2522
sharonr@uow.edu.au

Dr Jane Wasley
Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems: Environmental Change and Conservation, Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Hwy Kingston TAS 7050
jane.wasley@aad.gov.au

Diana King
Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, University of Wollongong, Northfields Ave Wollongong NSW 2522
dhk442@uowmail.edu.au

Abstract

Survival in Antarctica requires organisms to endure some of the harshest climatic conditions on Earth. Already at the edge of their physiological limits of survival, organisms living on the Antarctic continent are facing the current global threat of climate change, with higher latitudes strongly impacted. State of the Environment Indicator 72 is monitoring changes in bryophyte community composition at Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) 135 in the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica in order to model the potential long term impacts of climate change. This quantitative analysis of bryophyte communities, designed to minimise destructive sampling, commenced as a pilot in 2000 with full sampling in 2003, 2008 and 2013. Ten permanent quadrats are positioned within the bryophyte community, with nine tweezer pinch samples obtained from each. Samples are scored for presence or absence of each species. Although Bryophytes are the dominant plants on Continental Antarctica and inhabit these higher latitudes, they are sensitive to changes in their environment and so make a good proxy for environmental change. The Windmill Islands supports four bryophyte species, with the endemic moss Schistidium antarctici found in the wettest sites and the two cosmopolitan mosses, Bryum pseudotriquetrum and Ceratodon purpureus, and the liverwort Cephaloziella varians in higher abundance in drier sites. Change in water availability over time is expected to alter the community composition accordingly. This study can thus be used as an indicator to detect fine scale patterns in response to change, forming a baseline to model the degree of environmental change in the future.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

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This page was last modified on 2 September 2013.