This new atlas, providing the most thorough audit of marine life in the Southern Ocean, is published by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Leading marine biologists and oceanographers from all over the world spent the last four years compiling everything they know about the distribution of Antarctic marine species from microplankton to whales. It's the first time that such an effort has been undertaken since the late sixties when the American Geographical Society published its Antarctic Map Folio Series.
The Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean is intended to provide a benchmark of the Southern Ocean biogeography knowledge, to fulfill the needs of biogeographic information for science, conservation, monitoring and sustainable management of the Southern Ocean, in the context of environmental change and increasing human pressure. In an unprecedented international collaboration 147 scientists from 91 institutions across 22 countries combined their expertise and knowledge to produce this unique Biogeographic Atlas.
More than 9,000 species are recorded, ranging from microbes to whales. More than one million of records show the extent of scientific knowledge on the distribution of life in the Southern Ocean. In 66 chapters, the scientists examine the evolution, physical environment, genetics and possible impact of climate change on the spatial distribution of the marine organisms in the region. The data, and expert opinions, in Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean will help inform conservation policy, including the debate over whether or not to establish marine protected areas in the open ocean. Sophisticated environmental models coupled with existing species distribution data provide a valuable outlook on the possible future distribution of key species as they adapt to climate change.