Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 4

Antarctica Related Abstracts

4 Polar Bears in Antarctica: An Analysis of Treaty Barriers

Authors: Madison Hall


The Assisted Colonization of Polar Bears to Antarctica requires a careful analysis of treaties to understand existing legal barriers to Ursus maritimus transport and movement. An absence of land-based migration routes prevent polar bears from accessing southern polar regions on their own. This lack of access is compounded by current treaties which limit human intervention and assistance to ford these physical and legal barriers. In a time of massive planetary extinctions, Assisted Colonization posits that certain endangered species may be prime candidates for relocation to hospitable environments to which they have never previously had access. By analyzing existing treaties, this paper will examine how polar bears are limited in movement by humankind’s legal barriers. International treaties may be considered codified reflections of anthropocentric values of the best knowledge and understanding of an identified problem at a set point in time, as understood through the human lens. Even as human social values and scientific insights evolve, so too must treaties evolve which specify legal frameworks and structures impacting keystone species and related biomes. Due to costs and other myriad difficulties, only a very select number of species will be given this opportunity. While some species move into new regions and are then deemed invasive, Assisted Colonization considers that some assistance may be mandated due to the nature of humankind’s role in climate change. This moral question and ethical imperative against the backdrop of escalating climate impacts, drives the question forward; what is the potential for successfully relocating a select handful of charismatic and ecologically important life forms? Is it possible to reimagine a different, but balanced Antarctic ecosystem? Listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a result of the ongoing loss of critical habitat by melting sea ice, polar bears have limited options for long term survival in the wild. Our current regime for safeguarding animals facing extinction frequently utilizes zoos and their breeding programs, to keep alive the genetic diversity of the species until some future time when reintroduction, somewhere, may be attempted. By exploring the potential for polar bears to be relocated to Antarctica, we must analyze the complex ethical, legal, political, financial, and biological realms, which are the backdrop to framing all questions in this arena. Can we do it? Should we do it? By utilizing an environmental ethics perspective, we propose that the Ecological Commons of the Arctic and Antarctic should not be viewed solely through the lens of human resource management needs. From this perspective, polar bears do not need our permission, they need our assistance. Antarctica therefore represents a second, if imperfect chance, to buy time for polar bears, in a world where polar regimes, not yet fully understood, are themselves quickly changing as a result of climate change.

Keywords: Climate Change, Environmental Ethics, Arctic, polar bear, Antarctica, assisted colonization, treaty

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3 The Taxonomic and Functional Diversity in Edaphic Microbial Communities from Antarctic Dry Valleys

Authors: Sean T. S. Wei, Joy D. Van Nostrand, Annapoorna Maitrayee Ganeshram, Stephen B. Pointing


McMurdo Dry Valleys are a largely ice-free polar desert protected by international treaty as an Antarctic special managed area. The terrestrial landscape is dominated by oligotrophic mineral soil with extensive rocky outcrops. Several environmental stresses: low temperature, lack of liquid water, UV exposure and oligotrophic substrates, restrict the major biotic component to microorganisms. The bacterial diversity and the putative physiological capacity of microbial communities of quartz rocks (hypoliths) and soil of a maritime-influenced Dry Valleys were interrogated by two metagenomic approaches: 454 pyro-sequencing and Geochp DNA microarray. The most abundant phylum in hypoliths was Cyanobacteria (46%), whereas in solils Actinobacteria (31%) were most abundant. The Proteobacteria and Bacteriodetes were the only other phyla to comprise >10% of both communities. Carbon fixation was indicated by photoautotrophic and chemoautotrophic pathways for both hypolith and soil communities. The fungi accounted for polymer carbon transformations, particularly for aromatic compounds. The complete nitrogen cycling was observed in both communities. The fungi in particular displayed pathways related to ammonification. Environmental stress response pathways were common among bacteria, whereas the nutrient stress response pathways were more widely present in bacteria, archaea and fungi. The diversity of bacterialphage was also surveyed by Geochip. Data suggested that different substrates supported different viral families: Leviviridae, Myoviridae, Podoviridae and Siphoviridiae were ubiquitous. However, Corticoviridae and Microviridae only occurred in wetter soils.

Keywords: Soil, Stress Response, Antarctica, hypolith, dry valleys, geochip, functional diversity

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2 Cognitive Performance and Physiological Stress during an Expedition in Antarctica

Authors: Andrée-Anne Parent, Alain-Steve Comtois


The Antarctica environment can be a great challenge for human exploration. Explorers need to be focused on the task and require the physical abilities to succeed and survive in complete autonomy in this hostile environment. The aim of this study was to observe cognitive performance and physiological stress with a biomarker (cortisol) and hand grip strength during an expedition in Antarctica. A total of 6 explorers were in complete autonomous exploration on the Forbidden Plateau in Antarctica to reach unknown summits during a 30 day period. The Stroop Test, a simple reaction time, and mood scale (PANAS) tests were performed every week during the expedition. Saliva samples were taken before sailing to Antarctica, the first day on the continent, after the mission on the continent and on the boat return trip. Furthermore, hair samples were taken before and after the expedition. The results were analyzed with SPSS using ANOVA repeated measures. The Stroop and mood scale results are presented in the following order: 1) before sailing to Antarctica, 2) the first day on the continent, 3) after the mission on the continent and 4) on the boat return trip. No significant difference was observed with the Stroop (759±166 ms, 850±114 ms, 772±179 ms and 833±105 ms, respectively) and the PANAS (39.5 ±5.7, 40.5±5, 41.8±6.9, 37.3±5.8 positive emotions, and 17.5±2.3, 18.2±5, 18.3±8.6, 15.8±5.4 negative emotions, respectively) (p>0.05). However, there appears to be an improvement at the end of the second week. Furthermore, the simple reaction time was significantly lower at the end of the second week, a moment where important decisions were taken about the mission, vs the week before (416±39 ms vs 459.8±39 ms respectively; p=0.030). Furthermore, the saliva cortisol was not significantly different (p>0.05) possibly due to important variations and seemed to reach a peak on the first day on the continent. However, the cortisol from the hair pre and post expedition increased significantly (2.4±0.5 pg/mg pre-expedition and 16.7±9.2 pg/mg post-expedition, p=0.013) showing important stress during the expedition. Moreover, no significant difference was observed on the grip strength except between after the mission on the continent and after the boat return trip (91.5±21 kg vs 85±19 kg, p=0.20). In conclusion, the cognitive performance does not seem to be affected during the expedition. Furthermore, it seems to increase for specific important events where the crew seemed to focus on the present task. The physiological stress does not seem to change significantly at specific moments, however, a global pre-post mission measure can be important and for this reason, for long-term missions, a pre-expedition baseline measure is important for crewmembers.

Keywords: Cognitive Performance, Antarctica, reaction time, expedition, physiological adaptation

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1 Antarctica, Global Change and Deaf Education in Brazil

Authors: Luiz Antonio Da Costa Rodrigues, Mara Aparecida De Castilho Lopes, Alexandre Santos Alencar


Teaching of science must transcend simple transmission of fundamental concepts and allow scientific literacy, as a process for understanding the human being as an integral part of a complex and interdependent whole. In this context, approaching the theme ‘Antarctica’ in deaf education is an important advance for teaching, considering that that continent has direct interactions with the climatic and environmental system of the planet. Therefore, textbooks can be important tools to enable the Deaf Community to access the discussion about the natural environment. A specific script was used to analyze textbooks adopted by schools in the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Region. Results show that none of the 14 analyzed books have a specific chapter on the theme, some presents images of the continent without reference to their environmental importance, and the complementary texts present in the analyzed material do not address the theme either. It is concluded that the study on Antarctica and global changes in elementary education is still incipient and the material used by most Brazilian public schools does not contemplate that subject in an accessible way for the deaf person. This fact represents the distance between deaf students and their environment, denoting the need for actions to promote that and other neglected themes in Science teaching.

Keywords: Deaf education, Science Teaching, textbook, Antarctica

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