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Climate change and Southern Ocean ecosystems I: how changes in physical habitats directly affect marine biota

Version 2 2024-01-31, 02:31
Version 1 2023-05-18, 02:11
journal contribution
posted on 2024-01-31, 02:31 authored by Andrew ConstableAndrew Constable, Jessica Melbourne-ThomasJessica Melbourne-Thomas, Stuart CorneyStuart Corney, KR Arrigo, C Barbraud, DKA Barnes, Nathaniel BindoffNathaniel Bindoff, Philip BoydPhilip Boyd, A Brandt, DP Costa, A Davidson, HW Ducklow, L Emmerson, M Fukuchi, J Gutt, Mark HindellMark Hindell, EE Hofmann, GW Hosie, T Iida, S Jacob, NM Johnston, So KawaguchiSo Kawaguchi, N Kokubun, P Koubbi, Mary-Anne LeaMary-Anne Lea, A Makhado, Robert MassomRobert Massom, Klaus MeinersKlaus Meiners, MP Meredith, EJ Murphy, Stephen Nicol, Keith ReidKeith Reid, K Richerson, MJ Riddle, SR Rintoul, WO Smith Jr, CJ Southwell, JS Stark, Michael SumnerMichael Sumner, Kerrie SwadlingKerrie Swadling, KT Takahashi, PN Trathan, DC Welsford, H Weimerskirch, Karen WestwoodKaren Westwood, BC Wienecke, D Wolf-Gladrow, Simon WrightSimon Wright, JC Xavier, Philippe ZieglerPhilippe Ziegler
Antarctic and Southern Ocean (ASO) marine ecosystems have been changing for at least the last 30 years, including in response to increasing ocean temperatures and changes in the extent and seasonality of sea ice; the magnitude and direction of these changes differ between regions around Antarctica that could see populations of the same species changing differently in different regions. This article reviews current and expected changes in ASO physical habitats in response to climate change. It then reviews how these changes may impact the autecology of marine biota of this polar region: microbes, zooplankton, salps, Antarctic krill, fish, cephalopods, marine mammals, seabirds, and benthos. The general prognosis for ASO marine habitats is for an overall warming and freshening, strengthening of westerly winds, with a potential pole-ward movement of those winds and the frontal systems, and an increase in ocean eddy activity. Many habitat parameters will have regionally specific changes, particularly relating to sea ice characteristics and seasonal dynamics. Lower trophic levels are expected to move south as the ocean conditions in which they are currently found move pole-ward. For Antarctic krill and finfish, the latitudinal breadth of their range will depend on their tolerance of warming oceans and changes to productivity. Ocean acidification is a concern not only for calcifying organisms but also for crustaceans such as Antarctic krill; it is also likely to be the most important change in benthic habitats over the coming century. For marine mammals and birds, the expected changes primarily relate to their flexibility in moving to alternative locations for food and the energetic cost of longer or more complex foraging trips for those that are bound to breeding colonies. Few species are sufficiently well studied to make comprehensive species-specific vulnerability assessments possible. Priorities for future work are discussed.


Publication title

Global Change Biology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Australian Antarctic Program Partnership, Ecology and Biodiversity, Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Publication status

  • Published

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Socio-economic Objectives

280111 Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

UN Sustainable Development Goals

14 Life Below Water, 13 Climate Action