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Improving the use of biological data in Antarctic management

  • Maureen A. Lynch (a1), Catherine M. Foley (a1), Lesley H. Thorne (a2) and Heather J. Lynch (a1)

Abstract

The Antarctic Treaty System requires that the effects of potential human disturbance be evaluated, such as through the development and evaluation of Initial and Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations (IEEs and CEEs), and through the implementation of Management Plans for Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) and Antarctic Specially Managed Areas (ASMAs). The effectiveness of these management processes hinges on the quality and transparency of the data presented, particularly because independent validation is often difficult or impossible due to the financial and logistical challenges of working in the Antarctic. In a review of these documents and their treatment of wildlife survey data, we find that the basic elements of best data practices are often not followed; biological data are often uncited or out-of-date and rarely include estimates of uncertainty that would allow any subsequent changes in the distribution or abundance of wildlife to be rigorously assessed. We propose a set of data management and use standards for Antarctic biological data to improve the transparency and quality of these evaluations and to facilitate improved assessment of both immediate and long-term impacts of human activities in the Antarctic.

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