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Delicate Conditions

Working in one of the most rapidly-warming regions on the planet, LTER scientists at Palmer Station in the Antarctic discovered intricate, previously-unknown influences of climate change on plant and animal populations throughout the polar ecosystem food web.

Atkinson A, Siegel V, Pakhomov E, Rothery P. 2004. Long-term decline in krill stock and increase in salps within the Southern Ocean. Nature 432: 100-103.
Ducklow HW, Baker K, Martinson DG, Quetin LB, Ross RM, Smith RC, Stammerjohn SE, Vernet M, Fraser W. 2006. Marine ecosystems: The West Antarctic Peninsula. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 362: 67-94.
Montes-Hugo M, Doney SC, Ducklow HW, Fraser W, Martinson D, Stammerjohn SE, Schofield O. 2009. Recent Changes in Phytoplankton Communities Associated with Rapid Regional Climate Change Along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Science 323: 1470-1473.
Dr. Hugh Ducklow
Cartoon view of the marine ecosystem of the west Antarctic Peninsula, as revealed through long-term observations by Palmer LTER. The system is characterized by large predators such as penguins, seals and whales, sustained by upwelling that supports high productivity and large krill populations. But these typical Antarctic foodchains might be in a process of transformation to a new system dominated by gelatinous salps and microbes -- dead ends in the foodchain. Figure by I. Heifetz, Rutgers Univ.
I. Heifetz, Rutgers Univ.
Contour plot of Salpa thompsoni abundance off the west Antarctic Peninsula, 1993-2010. Few salps were detected before 2000, and closer than 160 kilometers offshore. Now the population is moving into the study area and closer to the Peninsula as sea ice cover disappears.



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