Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Glacier retreat on South Georgia and implications for the spread of rats

  • A.J. Cook (a1), S. Poncet (a2), A.P.R. Cooper (a1), D.J. Herbert (a1) and D. Christie (a3)...
Abstract

Using archival photography and satellite imagery, we have analysed the rates of advance or retreat of 103 coastal glaciers on South Georgia from the 1950s to the present. Ninety-seven percent of these glaciers have retreated over the period for which observations are available. The average rate of retreat has increased from 8 Ma-1 in the 1950s to 35 Ma-1 at present. The largest retreats have all taken place along the north-east coast, where retreat rates have increased to an average of 60 Ma-1 at present, but those on the south-west coast have also been steadily retreating since the 1950s. These data, along with environmental information about South Georgia, are included in a new Geographic Information System (GIS) of the island. By combining glacier change data with the present distribution of both endemic and invasive species we have identified areas where there is an increased risk of rat invasion to unoccupied coastal regions that are currently protected by glacial barriers. This risk has significant implications for the surrounding ecosystem, in particular depletion in numbers of important breeding populations of ground-nesting birds on the island.

Copyright
Corresponding author
acook@bas.ac.uk
References
Hide All
Clapperton, C.M., Sugden, D.E., Birnie, J.Wilson, M.J. 1989. Late glacial and Holocene glacier fluctuations and environmental change on South Georgia, Southern Ocean. Quaternary Research, 31, 210228.
Cook, A.J., Fox, A.J., Vaughan, D.G.Ferrigno, J.G. 2005. Retreating glacier fronts on the Antarctic Peninsula over the past half-century. Science, 308, 541544.
Frenot, Y., Chown, S.L., Whinam, J., Selkirk, P.M., Convey, P., Skotnicki, M.Bergstrom, D.M. 2005. Biological invasions in the Antarctic: extent, impacts and implications. Biological Reviews, 80, 4575.
Gordon, J.E.Timmis, R.J. 1992. Glacier fluctuations on South Georgia during the 1970s and early 1980s. Antarctic Science, 4, 215226.
Gordon, J.E., Haynes, V.M.Hubbard, A. 2008. Recent glacier changes and climate trends on South Georgia. Global and Planetary Change, 60, 7284.
Hayward, R.J.C. 1983. Glacier fluctuations in South Georgia, 1883–1974. British Antarctic Survey Bulletin, No. 52, 4761.
Headland, R.K. 1984. The island of South Georgia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 293 pp.
Holdaway, R.N. 2001. The frequency and potential significance of differences in non-metric skull and mandible morphology in two populations of Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) separated by glaciers on South Georgia, South Atlantic Ocean. Cambridge: BAS Archives, G84/1/2.
McIntosh, E.Walton, D.W.H. 2000. Environmental Management Plan for South Georgia. Cambridge: British Antarctic Survey, on behalf of the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, 105 pp.
Moors, P.J. 1985. Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) on the Noises and Motukawao islands, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 8, 3754.
Oerlemans, J.ed. 1989. Glacier fluctuations and climatic change. Proceedings of the Symposium on Glacier Fluctuation and Climate Change held in Amsterdam, 1–5 June 1987. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 414 pp.
Pasteur, E.C.Walton, D.W.H. 2006. South Georgia: plan for progress. Managing the environment 2006–2010. Cambridge: British Antarctic Survey, for the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, 76 pp.
Paterson, W.S.B. 1981. The physics of glaciers, 2nd ed. Oxford: Pergamon, 380 pp.
Poncet, S. 2000. Feasibility of rat eradication at South Georgia: a desk study report. Cambridge: BAS Archives, G84/1/1.
Poncet, S., Robertson, G., Phillips, R.A., Lawton, K., Phalan, B., Trathan, P.N.Croxall, J.P. 2006. Status and distribution of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses breeding at South Georgia. Polar Biology, 29, 772781.
Prince, P.A.Poncet, S. 1996. The breeding and distribution of birds on South Georgia. In Trathan, P.N., Daunt, F.H.J., Murphy, E.J., eds. South Georgia: an ecological atlas. Cambridge: British Antarctic Survey.
Pye, T.Bonner, W.N. 1980. Feral brown rats, Rattus norvegicus, in South Georgia (South Atlantic Ocean). Journal of Zoology, 192, 237255.
Robertson, B.C.Gemmell, N.J. 2004. Defining eradication units to control invasive species. Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 10421048.
Scott, J.J.Poncet, S. 2003. South Georgia Environmental Mapping Report. Technical Report No. EBS03/1. South Georgia Environmental Baseline Survey. Cambridge: BAS Archives, G84/1/3.
Turner, J., Colwell, S.R., Marshall, G.J., Lachlan-Cope, T.A., Carleton, A.M., Jones, P.D., Lagun, V., Reid, P.A.Jagovkina, J. 2004. The SCAR READER project: towards a high-quality data base of mean Antarctic meteorological observations. Journal of Climate, 17, 28902898.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed