Theme 3. Polar ecosystems and biodiversity
ecosystems span a vast range of contrasting environments from open ocean
to multi-year sea-ice and from dry lakes to glaciers. Most of them
represent extreme environments with harsh conditions inhabited by
organisms that represent remarkable examples of adaptation,
specialisation, and diversity. Many polar marine, freshwater, and
terrestrial ecosystems currently undergo substantial changes, but our
knowledge about the virgin state of these systems is scarce. In many
cases, this IPY provided the first comprehensive and systematic
investigations of these biological and ecological systems. Theme 3
includes the full range of microbial, invertebrate, plant, fish, avian
and mammalian species interacting with their unique polar environments.
Small scale, specific environments are considered as well as
interconnections between large ocean and terrestrial systems.