Introduction. Antarctic ecology from genes to ecosystems: the impact of climate change and the importance of scale

first_imgAntarctica offers a unique natural laboratory for undertaking fundamental research on the relationship between climate, evolutionary processes and molecular adaptation. The fragmentation of Gondwana and the development of wide-scale glaciation have resulted in major episodes of extinction and vicariance, as well as driving adaptation to an extreme environment. On shorter time-scales, glacial cycles have resulted in shifts in distribution, range fragmentation and allopatric speciation, and the Antarctic Peninsula is currently experiencing among the most rapid climatic warming on the planet. The recent revolution in molecular techniques has provided a suite of innovative and powerful tools to explore the consequences of these changes, and these are now providing novel insights into evolutionary and ecological processes in Antarctica. In addition, the increasing use of remotely sensed data is providing a large-scale view of the system that allows these processes to be set in a wider spatial context. In these two volumes, we collect a wide range of papers exploring these themes, concentrating on recent advances and emphasizing the importance of spatial and temporal scale in understanding ecological and evolutionary processes in Antarctica.last_img

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