A network for monitoring terrestrial ecosystems along a latitudinal gradient in Continental Antarctica
A network for monitoring change in the vegetation communities to assess the impact of future climate changes was established in Victoria Land (Continental Antarctica) in 2002 and 2003. The network is within the framework of the SCAR project RiSCC (Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change in Antarctic terrestrial and limnetic ecosystems), and in cooperation with LGP (Latitudinal Gradient Project) assessing how ecosystem biodiversity and structure may change with latitude and with climate change. The network is composed of 19 permanent plots at nine sites along a latitudinal gradient from Apostrophe Island (73°30′S, 167°50′E) to Granite Harbour (77°00′S, 162°26′E), with a main coastal transect and three subtransects inland from the coast. The sites are representative of the most frequent environmental conditions and the most widespread communities occurring in Continental Antarctica and in Victoria Land. The selected communities show different ecological requirements and have different potential sensitivities to climate change. The vegetation of each plot was described using the RiSCC research protocol, developed originally in the Maritime Antarctic and here adapted, for plot size, to Continental Antarctica. This paper characterizes the vegetation at the sites as the starting point of the long term monitoring.(Published Online November 14 2006)
(Received December 19 2005)
(Accepted August 7 2006)
Key Words: climate change; Latitudinal Gradient Project; permanent plots; vegetation; Victoria Land.