• Lynda E. ChambersEmail author
  • Marie R. Keatley
  • Eric J. Woehler
  • Dana M. Bergstrom


Antarctica was the last continent to be discovered and colonized by people, and this has resulted in generally sparse meteorological, oceanographic and biological data for the Antarctic and much of the Southern Ocean. Within the Antarctic region, here defined to include all regions south of the Antarctic Polar Front, much of the land-based biological research occurs at or near international scientific stations, leading to some regions, such as the Amundsen Sea, being poorly researched. In the last decade, evidence has emerged of significant differences, but also some similarities, in species’ responses to changing environmental conditions, including climate change. However, most of the studies have been confined to larger organisms, such as seabirds and marine mammals, with few long-term studies on the phenology of plants, invertebrates and other species. This highlights the need for greater spatial and species coverage in the southern regions of the globe to assess and quantify regional and ecosystem-scale processes and patterns.


Southern Ocean King Penguin Chinstrap Penguin Southern Elephant Seal Leopard Seal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Lily Gao and the staff at the Australian (National Meteorological Library). Patricia Selkirk for advice and references. We thank Valeria Ruoppolo for assistance with details on the South American research programs and Amy Winnard, Steve Pendlebury, Scott Carpentier and Phillip Reid for helpful comments on earlier drafts.


  1. Ainley DG (2002) The Adélie penguin: bellwether of climate change. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Ainley DG, LeResche RE, Sladen WJL (1983) Breeding biology of the Adélie penguin. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  3. Amundsen T (1995) Egg size and early nestling growth in the snow petrel. Condor 97:345–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Authier M, Delord K, Guinet C (2011) Population trends of female Elephant Seals breeding on the Courbet Peninsula, îles Kerguelen. Polar Biol 34:319–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barbraud C, Weimerskirch H (2006) Antarctic birds breed later in response to climate change. PNAS 103:6248–6251PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barbraud C, Lormée H, LeNevé A (2000) Body size and determinants of laying date variation in the Snow Petrel Pagodroma nivea. J Avian Biol 31:295–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barbraud C, Gavrilo M, Mizin Y, Weimerskirch H (2011) Comparison of emperor penguin declines between Pointe Géologie and Haswell Island over the past 50 years. Antarct Sci 23:461–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bergstrom DM, Selkirk PM (1987) Reproduction and dispersal of mosses on Macquarie Island. Symposia Acta Biol Hung 35:247–257Google Scholar
  9. Bergstrom DM, Selkirk PM, Keenan HM, Wilson ME (1997) Reproductive behaviour of ten flowering plant species on subantarctic Macquarie Island. Opera Bot 30:1–12Google Scholar
  10. Callaghan TV, Lewis MC (1971) The growth of Phleum alpinum L. in contrasting habitats at a sub-Antarctic station. New Phytol 70:1143–1154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cattle H (1991) Global climate models and Antarctic climate change. In: Harris C, Stonehouse B (eds) Antarctica and global climate change. Belhaven Press, London, pp. 21–34Google Scholar
  12. Chapius JL, Hennion F, Roux VL, Cuziat JL (2000) Growth and reproduction of the endemic cruciferous species Pringlea antiscorbutica in Kerguelen Islands. Polar Biol 23:196–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarke JL, Robinson AS, Hua Q, Ayre J, Fink D (2012) Radiocarbon bomb spike reveals biological effects of Antarctic climate change. Glob Chang Biol 18:301–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Convey P (1996) Overwintering strategies of terrestrial invertebrates in Antarctica – the significance of flexibility in extremely seasonal environments. Eur J Entomol 93:489–505Google Scholar
  15. Convey P, Smith RIL (2006) Reponses of terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems to climate change. Plant Ecol 182:1–10Google Scholar
  16. Convey P, Hopkins DW, Roberts SJ, Tyler AN (2011) Global southern limit of flowering plants and moss peat accumulation. Polar Res 30:8929. doi: 10.3402/polar.v30i0.8929 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crawford RJM, Dyer BM, Cooper J, Underhill LG (2006) Breeding numbers and success of Eudyptes penguins at Marion Island, and the influence of mass and time of arrival of adults. CCAMLR Sci 13:175–190Google Scholar
  18. Croxall JP, McCann TS, Prince PA, Rothery P (1988) Reproductive performance of seabirds and seals at South Georgia and Signy Island, South Orkney Islands, 1976–1987: implications for Southern Ocean monitoring studies. In: Sahrhage D (ed) Antarctic Ocean and resource variability. Springer, Berlin, pp. 261–285Google Scholar
  19. DASET (1992) Impact of climate change on Antarctica – Australia. Department of the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  20. Dorne AJ (1977) Analysis of the germination under laboratory and field conditions of seeds collected in the Kerguelen Archipelago. In: Llano GA (ed) Adaptations within Antarctic ecosystems – proceedings of the third SCAR symposium on Antarctic Biology. Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, pp. 1003–1113Google Scholar
  21. du Plessis CJ, van Heezik YM, Seddon PJ (1984) Timing of king penguin breeding at Marion Island. Emu 94:216–219Google Scholar
  22. Duck CD (1990) Annual variation in the timing of reproduction in Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazelle, at Bird Island, South Georgia. J Zool (Lond) 222:103–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Edwards JA (1974) Studies in Colobanthus quitensis (Kunth) Bartl. and Deschampsia antarctica Desv. VI. Reproductive performance on Signy Island. Br Antarct Surv B 39:67–86Google Scholar
  24. El-Sayed SZ (1988) Seasonal and interannual variabilities in Antarctic phytoplankton with reference to krill distribution. In: Sahrhage D (ed) Antarctic Ocean and resource variability. Springer, Berlin, pp. 101–119Google Scholar
  25. El-Sayed SZ (1994) Southern Ocean ecology: the BIOMASS perspective. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Emmerson L, Pike R, Southwell C (2011) Reproductive consequences of environment-driven variation in Adélie penguin breeding phenology. MEPS 440:203–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Forcada J, Trathan PN (2009) Penguin responses to climate change in the Southern Ocean. Glob Chang Biol 15:1618–1630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Forcada J, Trathan PN, Reid K, Murphy EJ (2005) The effects of global climate variability in pup production of Antarctic fur seals. Ecology 86:2408–2417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Forcada J, Trathan PN, Murphy EJ (2008) Life history buffering in Antarctic mammals and birds against changing patterns of climate and environmental variation. Glob Chang Biol 14:2473–2488Google Scholar
  30. Fraser W, Trivelpiece WZ, Ainley DG, Trivelpiece SG (1992) Increases in Antarctic penguin populations: reduced competition with whales or a loss of sea ice due to environmental warming? Polar Biol 11:525–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Frenot Y, Gloaguen J-C (1994) Reproductive performance of native and alien colonising phanerogams on a glacier foreland, Iles Kerguelen. Polar Biol 14:473–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Froget G, Gauthier-Clerc M, LeMaho Y, Handrich Y (1998) Is penguin banding harmless? Polar Biol 20:409–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gauthier-Clerc M, Gendner J-P, Ribic CA, Fraser WR, Woehler EJ, Descamps S, Gilly C, Le Bohec C, Le Maho Y (2004) Long-term effects of flipper bands on penguins. Proc R Soc Lond B (Suppl) 271:S423–S426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Greenslade P, Vernon P, Smith D (2011) Ecology of Heard Island Diptera. Polar Biol 35(6):841–850. doi: 10.1007/s00300-011-1128-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Griffiths HJ (2010) Antarctic marine biodiversity – what do we know about the distribution of life in the Southern Ocean. PLoS One 5(8):e11683PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hennion F, Walton DWH (1997) Seed germination of endemic species from Kerguelen phytogeographic zone. Polar Biol 17:180–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hindell M, Burton HR (1988) Seasonal haul-out patterns of the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina L.) at Macquarie Island. J Mammal 69:81–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hofmeyr GJG, Bester MN, Pistorius PA, Mulaudzi TW, de Bruyn PJN, Ramunasi JA, Tshithabane HN, McIntyre T, Radzilani PM (2007) Median pupping date, pup mortality and sex ratio of fur seals at Marion Island. S Afr J Wildl Res 37:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Holtom A, Greene SW (1967) The growth and reproduction of Antarctic flowering plants. Philos Trans R Soc B 252:323–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Huntley BJ (1970) Altitudinal distribution and phenology of Marion Island vascular plants. Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap 10:255–262Google Scholar
  41. Jouventin P, Lagarde F (1995) Evolutionary ecology of the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus: the self-regulation of the breeding cycle. In: Dann P, Norman I, Reilly P (eds) The penguins. Surrey Beatty, Sydney, pp. 80–95Google Scholar
  42. Kharitonov SP, Siegel-Causey D (1988) Colony formations in seabirds. Curr Ornithol 5:223–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Knox GA (1994) The biology of the Southern Ocean. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Korczak-Abshire M (2010) Climate change influences on Antarctic bird populations. Pap Glob Chang 17:53–66Google Scholar
  45. Laws RM (1984) Antarctic ecology (2 vols). Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  46. Le Bohec C, Durant JM, Gauthier-Clerc M, Stenseth NC, Park Y-H, Pradel R, Grémillet D, Gendner J-P, Le Maho Y (2008) King penguin population threatened by Southern Ocean warming. PNAS 105:2493–2497PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lynch HJ, Fagan WF, Naveen R, Trivelpiece SG, Trivelpiece WZ (2009) Timing of clutch initiation in Pygoscelis penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula: towards an improved understanding of off-peak census correction factors. CCAMLR Sci 16:149–165Google Scholar
  48. Lynch HJ, Fagan WF, Naveen R, Trivelpiece SG, Trivelpiece WZ (2012a) Differential advancement of breeding phenology in response to climate may alter staggered breeding among sympatric pygoscelid penguins. MEPS 454:135–145. doi: 10.3354/meps09252 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lynch HJ, Naveen R, Trathan PN, Fagan WF (2012b) Spatially integrated assessment reveals widespread changes in penguin populations on the Antarctic Peninsula. Ecology 93:1367–1377PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Massom RA, Stammerjohn SE (2010) Antarctic sea ice change and variability – physical and ecological implications. Polar Sci 4:149–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McMahon CR, Hindell MA (2009) Royal penguin phenology: changes in the timing of egglaying of a sub-Antarctic predator in response to a changing marine environment. In: Stienen E, Ratcliffe N, Seys J, Tack J, Mees J, Dobbelaere I (eds) Seabird Group 10th international conference VLIZ Special Publication 42. Communications of the research institute for nature and forest – INBO.M.2009.1. Provincial Court, Brugge, 27–30 March, 45pGoogle Scholar
  52. Mukhadi FL (2010) Phenology of indigenous and alien vascular flowering plants on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. MSc thesis, University of Stellenbosch, StellenboschGoogle Scholar
  53. Ochyra R, Bednarek-Ochyra H, Smith RIL (2008) Illustrated moss flora of Antarctica. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  54. Olech M (2004) Lichens of King George Island, Antarctica. The Institute of Botany of the Jagiellonian University, KrakówGoogle Scholar
  55. Olivier F, van Franeker JA, Creuwels JCS, Woehler EJ (2005) Variations of snow petrel breeding success in relation to sea-ice extent: detecting local responses to large-scale processes? Polar Biol 28:687–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rounsevell D (1988) Periodic irruptions of itinerant leopard seals within the Australasian sector of the Southern Ocean, 1976–86. Pap Proc R Soc Tasman 122:189–191Google Scholar
  57. Rounsevell D, Eberhard I (1980) Leopard seals, Hydrurga leptonyx (Pinnipedia), at Macquarie Island from 1949 to 1979. Aust Wildl Res 7:403–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Saraux C, Le Bohec C, Durant JM, Viblanc VA, Gauthier-Clerc M, Beaune D, Park Y-H, Yoccoz NG, Stenseth NC, La Maho Y (2001) Reliability of flipper-banded penguins as indicators of climate change. Nature 469:203–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Seppelt R (2004) The moss flora of Macquarie Island. Australian Antarctic Division, KingstonGoogle Scholar
  60. Shaw JD (2005) Reproductive ecology of vascular flora of sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Dissertation, University of Tasmania, HobartGoogle Scholar
  61. Siegel V, Loeb V (1995) Recruitment of Antarctic Krill Euphausia superba and possible causes for its variability. MEPS 123:45–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Siegel-Causey D, Kharitonov SP (1990) The evolution of coloniality. Curr Ornithol 7:285–330Google Scholar
  63. Slip DJ, Burton HR (1999) Population status and seasonal haulout patterns of the southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) at Heard Island. Antarct Sci 11:38–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Smith RIL, Convey P (2002) Enhanced sexual reproduction in bryophytes at high latitudes in the maritime Antarctic. J Bryol 24:107–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tallowin JRB (1977) Studies in the reproductive biology of Festuca contracta T. Kirk on South Georgia: II. The reproductive performance. Br Antarct Surv B 45:117–129Google Scholar
  66. Taylor BW (1955) Botany – the flora, vegetation and soils of Macquarie Island, vol II, ANARE reports, series B. Australian Antarctic Division, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  67. Trathan PN, Agnew D (2010) Climate change and the Antarctic marine ecosystem: an essay on management implications. Antarct Sci 22:387–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Trathan PN, Forcada J, Murphy EJ (2007) Environmental forcing and Southern Ocean marine predator populations: effects of climate change and variability. Philos Trans R Soc B 362:2351–2365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Turner J, Colwell SR, Marshall GJ, Lachlan-Cope TA, Carleton AM, Jones PD, Lagun V, Reid PA, Iagovkina S (2005) Antarctic climate change during the last 50 years. Int J Climatol 25:279–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Turner J, Overland JE, Walsh JE (2007) An Arctic and Antarctic perspective on recent climate change. Int J Climatol 27:277–293. doi: 10.1002/joc.1406 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tweedie CE (2000) Climate change and the autecology of six plant species along an altitudinal gradient on subantarctic Macquarie Island. Dissertation, University of Queensland, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  72. Walton DWH (1977) Studies on Acaena (Roseaceae): I. Seed germination, growth and establishment in A. magellanica (Lam.) Vahl and A. tenera Alboff. Br Antarct Surv B 45:29–40Google Scholar
  73. Walton DWH (1979) Studies on Acaena (Roseaceae) III. Flowering and hybridization on South Georgia. Br Antarct Surv B 55:11–25Google Scholar
  74. Walton DWH (1982) Floral phenology in the South Georgian vascular flora. Br Antarct Surv B 55:11–25Google Scholar
  75. Waugh SM, Weimerskirch H, Moore PJ, Sagar PM (1999) Population dynamics of Black-browed and Greyheaded Albatrosses Diomedea melanophrys and D. chrysostoma at Campbell Island, New Zealand, 1942–96. Ibis 141:216–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Weidinger K (1997) Breeding cycle of the Cape petrel Daption capense at Nelson Island, Antarctica. Polar Biol 17:469–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Weimerskirch H, Stahl JC, Jouventin P (1992) The breeding biology and population dynamics of King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus on the Crozet Islands. Ibis 134:107–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wiencke C, Gómez I, Dunton K (2011) Phenology and seasonal physiological performance of polar seaweed. In: Wiencke C (ed) Biology of polar benthic algae. De Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 181–194Google Scholar
  79. Young EC (1991) Critical ecosystems and nature conservation in Antarctica. In: Harris C, Stonehouse B (eds) Antarctica and global climate change. Belhaven Press, London, pp. 117–146Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynda E. Chambers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie R. Keatley
    • 2
  • Eric J. Woehler
    • 3
  • Dana M. Bergstrom
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate ResearchBureau of MeteorologyMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Forest and Ecosystem ScienceUniversity of MelbourneCreswickAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaSandy BayAustralia
  4. 4.Australian Antarctic DivisionKingstonAustralia

Personalised recommendations