Trampling the Antarctic: Consequences of Pedestrian Traffic on Antarctic Soils
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Antarctic soils provide habitat for fauna and flora which are regionally important and, in some cases, include endemic representatives. Thus, protection of this component of the ecosystem should be a priority. In this chapter, our focus is on the vulnerability of Antarctic soils to foot traffic (heretofore referred to as trampling) and possible future scenarios with regards to the conservation of Antarctic soils. We begin by briefly describing the principal abiotic and biotic features of Antarctic soils, and reviewing the limited studies that have examined the consequences of trampling. We then examine a range of drivers of change that could play a decisive role in the future conservation of Antarctic soils, such as climate change, human pressure and species introduction. Taking into consideration the current legal and management measures for Antarctic soils conservation, we propose two possible future scenarios assuming different management models: a Business-As-Usual scenario and a conservation-focused situation. The chapter ends with a small reflection centered on the difficulties in achieving a conservation-focused future, and the need to consider whether conservation of soil against trampling should be a priority on the agenda of the Antarctic Treaty nations and the international scientific community.
KeywordsHuman impact Antarctic soils vulnerability Environmental monitoring Codes of conduct Soil conservation
This chapter was contributed by different projects supported by the Spanish Government (REN2000-0435-ANT, REN2002-11617-E, CGL2004-20451-E, CGL2005/06549/02/01-ANT, POL2006-06635, CGL2007-28761-E/ANT and CTM2009-06604-E). We would like to thank the Spanish Polar Committee, the BIO Las Palmas of the Spanish Navy, the Unit of Marine Technology (UMT) from CSIC, the Spanish station Gabriel de Castilla and the military members that provided support on the field. Two people contributed to largely improve the document: Tanya O’Neill from Landcare Research ~ Manaaki Whenua (New Zealand) and Dr. Tina Tin from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). Thank you very much for your constructive and helpful comments on the intermediate versions of the manuscript.
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