cost, scientists cannot study all species all the time. Workshop participants stressed the importance of identifying the key species that would be proxies to help understand climate impacts. For example, whales could be appropriate sentinels by providing outreach and education opportunities, because these “charismatic megafauna” easily capture the public interest further demonstrating relevance to this research.

Biotic Community Composition

Changing climates are likely to cause major biotic shifts in Arctic and Antarctic biological communities that will ultimately result in altered community compositions. While a great deal of research tends toward understanding ecosystem impacts, there is insufficient information available on community composition to provide adequate understanding of the severity of those potential changes. Because of this data void, workshop participants discussed the importance of understanding and defining the current system in order to better understand how change will affect that system. Additionally, there was discussion about the major difference in adaptability by the Arctic and Antarctic systems. Some scientists suggest that it is likely that the Arctic is much more resilient because of the existence of highly variable conditions that probably developed alternative trajectories for responses by the community’s organisms compared to a much less variable Antarctic system.

An area of concern that arose during workshop discussions was that the potential impacts on community composition in the Arctic due to an ice-free or ice-reduced regime, including reductions in permafrost and the arctic ice cap, will allow for profound terrestrial, under-sea, and surface changes that may permanently alter taxonomic composition, as is already being experienced with northerly migrating tree and other plant species, range expansion by species into previously marginal habitat areas, and southerly migration of ice-dependent species in search of food. Another potential negative consequence of climate change is the loss of synchrony between plant and animal species where, for example, a long-distance migratory bird species arrives when adequate food resources are unavailable. Many workshop participants stressed that each of these concerns point ultimately to an important research need to continue to study the diversity of a population, not just the morphological diversity, but at a genetic level.

Marine LTER in the Arctic

Marine ecosystems are complex systems that can potentially adapt to perturbations in ways that purely physical systems cannot. Long-term

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