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Antarctica's wilderness fails to capture continent's biodiversity

Leihy, RI, Coetzee, BWT, Morgan, F, Raymond, B, Shaw, JD, Terauds, A, Bastmeijer, K and Chown, SL 2020 , 'Antarctica's wilderness fails to capture continent's biodiversity' , Nature, vol. 583, no. 7817 , pp. 567-571 , doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2506-3.

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Abstract

Recent assessments of Earth’s dwindling wilderness have emphasized that Antarctica is a crucial wilderness in need of protection. Yet human impacts on the continent are widespread, the extent of its wilderness unquantified and the importance thereof for biodiversity conservation unknown. Here we assemble a comprehensive record of human activity (approximately 2.7 million records, spanning 200 years) and use it to quantify the extent of Antarctica’s wilderness and its representation of biodiversity. We show that 99.6% of the continent’s area can still be considered wilderness, but this area captures few biodiversity features. Pristine areas, free from human interference, cover a much smaller area (less than 32% of Antarctica) and are declining as human activity escalates. Urgent expansion of Antarctica’s network of specially protected areas can both reverse this trend and secure the continent’s biodiversity.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Leihy, RI and Coetzee, BWT and Morgan, F and Raymond, B and Shaw, JD and Terauds, A and Bastmeijer, K and Chown, SL
Keywords: Antarctica, biodiversity
Journal or Publication Title: Nature
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 0028-0836
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41586-020-2506-3
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 Nature Research

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