Antarctic marine biodiversity and climate change

View of Antarctic ice and mountains

The view of North Cove from Antarctica's Rothera Research Station. Credit: Adrian Glover.

Principal Investigator

Dr Adrian Glover

Project summary

We are examining biodiversity deep in the Antarctic Southern Ocean to understand how marine ecosystems may deal with future climate change.

This work uses DNA and morphology data from samples collected by the British Antarctic Survey BIOPEARL project from the West Antarctic.

High-latitude ecosystems, such as the Antarctic, experience extreme variation in productivity and food supply between seasons and years. By examining how marine ecosystems respond to these changes, we can test how they may respond to global change.

When our work is finished, it will be one of the largest benthic diversity datasets ever published for the region.

We are also combining this information with detailed taxonomic study to discover new species of polychaete worms.

Research Assistant Lenka Neal has already identified over 300 different species from the BIOPEARL collection of over 15,000 polychaete specimens. We are now analysing the genetic data and stable-isotope ratios of these worms to see how they disperse around Antarctica, and to look for evidence of cryptic speciation.

Adrian Glover explains why he studies Antarctic marine life

UK biodiversity research

We are creating molecular and digital tools to explore undiscovered biodiversity.

Invertebrate research

Our scientists are investigating the taxonomy, systematics and biodiversity of groups of invertebrates.

Zoology collections

Our zoology collection has 29 million animal specimens and is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens.