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Flora, Fauna, and Ecology


There are many IPY projects studying Polar Flora, Fauna, and Ecology and several of these projects also are members of other collectives focussing on the Arctic and Antarctic. For more information, please see:

Conservation for Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)
Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA)

Examples of some of these project areas are described below in the following topics:
Arctic Adaptations
Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic
Soil Ecosystems in the Antarctic Dry Valleys


Arctic Adaptations

The International Tundra Experiment is a network of researchers examining the impacts of climate change on tundra vegetation throughout the Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine regions of the world. The goals of the networks are to document, understand and forecast changes in the tundra biome. For more information, images and links, please visit the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) page on, or the ITEX website.

The following posters have been provided by Robert Hollister, from ITEX. For more information, and contact details, please see our Meet The Scientists page.

Download as powerpoints: Arctic Adaptations Poster Climate Change Impacts




Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA)

Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic: The Response of Life to Change, or EBA, is an international, multidisciplinary programme that has been approved by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) for 2006 - 2013.

EBA seeks to:
1. Understand the evolution and diversity of life in the Antarctic;
2. Determine how these have influenced the properties and dynamics of present
Antarctic ecosystems and the Southern Ocean system;
3. Make predictions on how organisms and communities are responding and will
respond to current and future environmental change; and
4. Identify EBA science outcomes that are relevant to conservation policy and
communicate this science via the SCAR Antarctic Treaty System Committee.

EBA aims to facilitate collaboration between key researchers from other disciplines through workshops and conferences and maximize international and multidisciplinary involvement.

By integrating research in marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in a manner never before attempted, EBA hopes to advance evolutionary and ecological science globally using model systems and organisms from the Antarctic.

Here is a full list of projects and contacts studying evolution and biodiversity in the Antarctic



Thanks to Ian Hogg and Byron Adams for images and text. Both are happy to be contacted,- see the Meet The Scientists page for biographies and details.

Morulina mackenziana from Igloolik in the Canadian Arctic. One of the largest springtails found in either polar region. Photo Barry O’Brien

Springtails, or Collembola, are primitive insect-like animals with 6 legs. Together with insects they are generally referred to as “Hexapods” (referring to the fact that they have six feet). They are the most widely distributed hexapods on earth ranging to within a few hundred kilometres of each pole and have more recognised species in the polar regions than all other insects combined. They are an important part of the ecosystem and help break down organic material.

Above: Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni. Actual size 1.3mm. This is the largest year-round terrestrial animal found in Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Photo by Barry O’Brien

Below: Desoria klovstadi. Actual size 1.8mm. Photo by Barry O’Brien


This species of springtail (above) is found in the relatively warmer Northern Victoria Land region of Antarctica. Its well developed forked spring is clearly visibly towards the rear of the animal. It is this structure from which Collembola derive their common name “springtails”. The spring (or furcula) can be “flicked” and used to quickly propel the animal either for moving from one place to another or to avoid predators such as birds or other invertebrates.”


The nematode worm Scottnema lindsayae is the most common and abundant land animal in Antarctica, where it persists in the dry, exposed soils of the ice-free polar deserts.  It survives the cold and dry conditions by freeze-drying itself, whereby it evacuates virtually all of the water out of its cells and goes into a state of suspended animation (anhydrobiosis).  We don

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