Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-vcb8f Total loading time: 0.379 Render date: 2022-09-27T05:26:20.356Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Article contents

Antarctic Marine Biodiversity – a taxonomic crisis?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2008

Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]

Abstract

Type
Guest Editorial
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2008

Taxonomic and species richness studies are particularly time-consuming when new, unexplored areas are investigated. As an example the recent ANDEEP I–III expeditions (2002–2005) to the bathyal and abyssal of the Weddell Sea and adjacent areas have increased the species numbers for Antarctic isopods from 371 to 956 and the identifications and species descriptions for many other groups have yet to be completed. For most Antarctic taxa no adequate taxonomic guides or keys are available and the current knowledge is in the heads of a small group of taxonomists around the world, of whom several are near to retirement. To save this most valuable knowledge for the future, taxonomists need to be encouraged to add their knowledge into databases and key-constructing software and to train the younger generation of biologist in the identification of species.

This is not just an Antarctic problem. Over the last decades the concern over the global loss of undisturbed habitats, the decline of charismatic species (e.g. whales or tigers), and the impacts of climate change on the biosphere have initiated international moves to measure the Earth's biodiversity, like DIVERSITAS, Species 2000, GBIF or the Census of Marine Life (CoML). In the Antarctic we are already trying to address the problem. The SCAR projects RiSCC and MarBIN have started to compile comprehensive databases on the species that live on and around the southernmost continent. The RiSCC biodiversity database is examining biodiversity patterns across all major groups for the entire Antarctic region in both terrestrial and limnetic ecoystems. Its counterpart is SCAR-MarBIN (www.scarmarbin.be), which compiles and manages information on Antarctic marine biodiversity and provides tools for the analysis of biogeographic patterns. Closely linked with SCAR-MarBIN is the current Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML), a sub-project of CoML.

Many funding agencies apparently assumed years ago that traditional taxonomy was unnecessary and that analysis of nucleic acids would provide all the information we need. DNA sequencing, which was first used to analyse phylogenetic relationships in Antarctic taxa, is now using bar coding gene loci (e.g. COI) to differentiate between problematic species, to discover cryptic species and to help to create lists of species numbers/species units. For example, CAML, starting its bar coding project in April 2007, has encouraged the research community to produce COI and 18S barcodes for the marine fauna collected on all the CAML-IPY cruises. The CAML barcodes not only require the molecular sequences for individual species but also detailed information on the sequenced specimen, including collection site, voucher specimen and images. The CAML barcodes are available through the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) and their taxonomic and distribution information will be linked with SCAR-MarBIN.

While DNA bar coding had been seen as the future of taxonomy and morphological taxonomy was assumed to be obsolete, it has now been recognised that DNA bar coding has to be used alongside traditional taxonomy to be successful. This year's CAML-IPY campaign will generate a vast amount of new data on biodiversity and biogeography in the Antarctic. Species richness assessment of these samples will take years, assuming that we still have enough expert taxonomists willing and able to do the work. As useful as the DNA bar coding is, it is weak without the traditional taxonomy and the traditional taxonomy can greatly benefit and explore new areas with the DNA bar coding. For the future of research in Biodiversity we cannot afford to lose the traditional taxonomy but by combining old with new techniques we will be in a position to understand and use Biodiversity at a level we have never been able to achieve before. How can we make the funding agencies appreciate this point?

You have Access
2
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Antarctic Marine Biodiversity – a taxonomic crisis?
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Antarctic Marine Biodiversity – a taxonomic crisis?
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Antarctic Marine Biodiversity – a taxonomic crisis?
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *