Two-thirds of Antarctic species face extinction by 2,100, study finds

According to a recent study, climate change  is considered.


The most serious threat to Antarctica ‘s biodiversity and emperor penguins were identified as the most vulnerable.

Conservation efforts are insufficient to protect Antarctica ‘s ecosystems , and a population decline of 65% of the continent’s plants and fauna is likely by the year 2,100.

This is the conclusion of a study by the University of Queensland (Australia) and his colleagues, published in the open access journal ‘PLOS Biology’ .

The application of ten key threat management strategies –with an annual cost of 23 million dollars (about 22 million euros)– would benefit up to 84% of the groups of birds, mammals and terrestrial plants, they point out.

To better understand which species are most vulnerable and identify the most cost-effective actions, the researchers, led by researcher Jasmine Rachael Lee, combined expert assessments with scientific data to assess threats and conservation strategies for Antarctica .

They asked 29 experts to define possible management strategies, estimate their cost and feasibility, and assess the potential benefit for different species by 2,100 years from now.

Climate change, serious threat to biodiversity

Climate change was identified as the most serious threat to Antarctica ‘s biodiversity, and influencing global policy to limit warming was the most beneficial conservation strategy. With current management strategies and more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming, 65% of terrestrial plants and animals will decline by 2100.

Emperor penguins (‘Aptenodytes forsteri’) were identified as the most vulnerable, followed by other seabirds and nematode worms in the soil. However, regional management strategies could benefit up to 74% of plants and animals at an estimated cost of US$1.92 billion over the next 83 years, equivalent to 0.004% of global GDP in 2019.

The regional management strategies that offered the highest return on investment were minimizing the impact of human activities, improving the planning and management of new infrastructure projects, and improving transport management.

As Antarctica faces increasing pressure from climate change and human activities, a combination of regional and global conservation efforts is needed to preserve Antarctic biodiversity and ecosystem services for future generations, the authors say.

“What this work demonstrates is that climate change is the biggest threat to Antarctic species and what we need are global mitigation efforts to save them,” Lee adds. “This will not only help secure their future, but ours as well.” .

(Europe Press)