Life in extreme conditions: The paradox of Antarctic marine biodiversity

Stefano Ambroso, Janire Salazar, Josep-Maria Gili, Rebeca Zapata Guardiola


The study of pristine places is very important for learning about the state of the oceans before the impact of human beings. Due to the extreme environmental conditions of the Antarctic continental shelf – its distance from other continents, depth, and the weight of the continental ice – it offers us a great opportunity to better understand how a pristine ecosystem would normally be. In addition to a high level of biodiversity, Antarctic benthic organisms present patterns of demographic and spatial distribution that are different from the communities of the continental shelves in other seas and oceans of the world. This makes Antarctic benthic communities look, more than one might think, like the communities with the highest known biodiversity in the world.


marine biodiversity; conservation; Antarctica; benthos; gorgonia

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