Skip to Content | Contact

Uncovering invertebrate biodiversity in East Antarctica’s nearshore marine habitats: Underpinning monitoring and management from local to global scales
Glenn J. Johnstone


Glenn J Johnstone
Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems Theme, Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Hwy, Kingston TAS 7050

Jonathan S Stark
Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems Theme, Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Hwy, Kingston TAS 7050

Felicity McEnnulty
Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems Theme, Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Hwy, Kingston TAS 7050


Accurate identification to species level underpins efforts to describe both pattern and process in ecological systems. Work to describe, identify and catalogue the nearshore marine invertebrates of East Antarctica is fundamental to the monitoring of natural and human induced ecological changes and of efforts to remediate past impacts. Nearshore benthic marine ecosystems are hot spots of Antarctic biodiversity. Their proximity to coastal Antarctic stations makes them vulnerable to impacts from local to global scales and useful systems in which to monitor natural and human induced ecological change. Using traditional taxonomic methods combined with genetic techniques we have identified over 530 species of infaunal and epifaunal invertebrates from nearshore habitats (to 30m depth) around Casey and Davis stations. Through the careful curation and management of the samples we have collected, this material will ultimately be lodged at Australia’s museums for long term archiving. New species and cryptic speciation have been discovered. For example, an Ostracod previously thought to be a single species has proven to be a complex of up to 9 species, including 5 previously undescribed species and a new genus. Ongoing DNA sequencing work is expected to uncover more diversity given that several recent studies have indicated a high likelihood of undiscovered intraspecific genetic biodiversity in Antarctic benthic marine invertebrates. Both traditional taxonomy and current and evolving genetic techniques will be key to understanding, protecting and conserving Antarctic marine biodiversity and to fully realising their potential as indictors of global issues such as climate change and ocean acidification.

Latest news

  • Conference prize winners
    27 Jun 2013

    The Strategic Science in Antarctica conference concluded yesterday and two days of workshops have commenced. Congratulations to those who were awarded prizes for their contributions to the conference.

  • Watch the welcome message from Australia's Environment Minister
    24 Jun 2013

    In a welcome message via video from Canberra, Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke, reflected on the foresight of earlier decision-makers who agreed to set aside an entire continent for scientific research.

  • Last minute information for attendees
    20 Jun 2013

    There's not too long to wait until the start of the Strategic Science in Antarctica conference, and we hope you’re as excited as we are! Read on for more information about the final program, registration, Twitter, presenters, posters and social functions.

More news…

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

More key dates…

This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.