Green-blue algae in white wonderland – a review of current distributions and possible changes to cyanobacteria distribution caused by anthropogenic climate change in Antarctica.
Antarctic warming is currently occurring at an unprecedented rate and has been associated with human activities resulting in anthropogenic climate change. Warming of the Antarctic continent has resulted in warmer annual temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and higher abundances of ice-free areas vital to organism survival. Climatic changes impact organisms inhabiting these cold-climate areas and may lead to reduced or extended habitancy in different parts of Antarctica. One organism impacted is cyanobacteria, the most abundant non-marine organism in the Antarctic region (Quesada, Goff & Karentz, 1998). Cyanobacteria is a vital organism in many ecosystems as cyanobacteria fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into soils and photosynthesises CO2 to O2, benefiting many organisms. However, in high abundances cyanobacteria can overwhelm an ecosystem and negatively impact cohabiting organisms which is seen in many temperate climate locations. Anthropogenic climate change may impact the future of the endemic cyanobacteria population and other interrelated organisms. Current research has limited knowledge on possible impacts of anthropogenic climate change on the microorganism. Through analysis of factors, which will be affected by climate change (e.g. ice-free regions, temperature, or lake salinity), it is possible to extrapolate potential growth rates of cyanobacteria in the future. Optimal temperature for growth rate, as well as current Antarctic distributions will be used as evidence to assess future environments cyanobacteria may inhabit. Findings that cyanobacteria are thought to come from temperate origins also show current research suggests no reason that Antarctic cyanobacteria species are likely to go extinct and rather that there is potential for geographic species expansion.
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