Amazing Antarctica and its plant and animal diversity: a brief introduction

Pratibha Gupta

Abstract


Antarctica is the coldest, driest, amazing place and fifth largest continent of this world covered with ice. This is a gift of nature in natural form. I have got an opportunity to visit the Larsemann Hills, Antarctica during Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica. The Larsemann Hills (69°20’S to 69°30’S Latitude., 75°55’E to 76°30’E Longitude) is located approximately halfway between Vest fold Hills and Amery Ice Shelf on South-eastern coast of Prydz Bay. Human activities in Larsemann Hills is promoted due to its coastal location, ice free landscape, Australian summer research base (Law base), Chinese research station (Zhongshan) and Russian research stations(Progress) were established within the area of 3 km from each other on eastern broknes. After that there was rapid infrastructure development in the area and further scientific research and the potential for tourist visits resulted in notable localised alteration of the environment, ultimately affecting the biodiversity. The Antarctic environment / climate is highly susceptible to the impacts of human activities and has much less natural ability to recover from disturbance than the environment of other continents. These changes ultimately affect the environment and growth of organisms. Larsemann Hills represent the southernmost coastal oasis contains diverse flora and fauna. In flora - Bryophytes, Lichens and Algae were observed. Among algae mainly Cosmarium, Diatoms, Dinoflagellates and Cyanobacterial mats were observed from different water bodies and terrestrial habitats. As for as fauna is concerned breeding sea bird like Snow petrels, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, South polar Skuas was found. Besides this, Seals, Adelie Penguin and Emperor Penguin were occasionally observed in Larsemann Hills area. However, very little is known about the terrestrial micro fauna. In lakes and streams species of protozoans, platyhelminths, rotifers, tardigrades, nematodes, arthropods, etc. have been reported.

Keywords


Antarctica, Larsemann Hills, Environment, Plant and Animal Diversity, Biodiversity, Freshwater Lakes.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22445/avsp.v4i1.4376

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