Gutt, J, Adams, B, Bracegirdle, T, Cowan, D, Cummings, V, di Prisco, G, Gradinger, R, Isla, E, McIntyre, T, Murphy, E, Peck, L, Schloss, I, Smith, C, Suckling, CC, Takahashi, A, Verde, C, Wall, DH, Xavier, J. 2013. Antarctic Thresholds – Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation” (AnT-ERA), a new SCAR-biology programme. Polarforschung, 82: 147-150.
Stresses on Antarctic ecosystems result from environmental change, including extreme events, and from (other) human impacts. Consequently, Antarctic habitats are changing, some at a rapid pace while others are relatively stable. A cascade of responses from molecular through organismic to the community level are expected. The differences in biological complexity and evolutionary histories between both polar regions and the rest of the planet suggest that stresses on polar ecosystem function may have fundamentally different outcomes from those at lower latitudes. Polar ecosystem processes are therefore key to informing wider ecological debate about the nature of stability and potential changes across the biosphere.
The main goal of AnT-ERA is to facilitate the science required to examine changes in biological processes in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic marine-, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Tolerance limits, as well as thresholds, resistance and resilience to environmental change will be determined. AnT-ERA is classified into three overlapping themes, which represent three levels of biological organisation: (1) molecular and physiological performance, (2) population processes and species traits, (3) ecosystem function and services.