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A warming Antarctica will create new animal habitats. That could lead to some epic competition.

A warming Antarctica will create new animal habitats. That could lead to some epic competition.

A warming Antarctica will create new animal habitats. That could lead to some epic competition.

As climate change continues to cause widespread melting and ice loss in Antarctica, new habitats may begin to open up for wildlife on the continent of thawing, scientists reported Wednesday.

But although it may seem a great help to plants, microbes, birds and other organisms, they point out that this is not necessarily good for the fragile Antarctic ecosystem.

As more ice-free space opens across the continent, previously isolated species may begin to spread and contact each other.

And as more and more compelled to compete for resources, some organizations may emerge dominant – and others may begin to disappear, write a team of researchers in a new study, just published in the journal Nature.

While Antarctica is largely frozen, isolated ice-free areas – including exposed peaks, cliffs, valleys and islands – are already scattered throughout the area and can range in size from less than a square mile To hundreds of square miles. They can be separated by anywhere from a few feet to tens or hundreds of miles.

“This is not a simple image, and free ice areas in many ways,” said study researcher Thomas Bracegirdle, climate scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, in an email to The Washington Post, adding that these areas Can be distributed both on the coast and in the interior.

Isolated, as they can in some cases, these areas can lead to various species of vegetation of microbes, worms and insects and other small organisms, and can also serve as animal breeding grounds such as seals and seabirds.

These species tend to be highly specialized in the extreme conditions in which they live, said Peter Convey, a terrestrial ecologist in the British Antarctic Survey, who did not participate in the new study.

Some of them may be dormant for much of the year. Others may have developed special adaptations that allow them to survive in conditions with high winds, water or extremely low temperatures.

In addition, some species are only found in very specific areas – in fact, some have been recorded only in an ice-free area. Others may be more widespread across the continent, but may have developed different adaptations in different areas.

In general, Antarctica is home to many vulnerable and diverse communities that can be very sensitive to environmental changes.

“From the outside, we look at Antarctica as a big continent – everything is covered with ice, it’s all the same,” he told the Washington Post.

“And, in fact, I would not do it with other continents, any other continent has different zones, different habitats that harbor different things, and what has become clear in recent research is that Antarctica is divided into many other biogeographic zones.”

But according to the new article, there has been little research to date on how climate change and the melting of ice in Antarctica can affect the forms of life it shelters. The study suggests that, in fact, these influences have the potential to produce profound changes in Antarctic biodiversity.

Led by Jasmine Lee of the University of Queensland, the research team used a model to make projections of future Antarctic ice melt under two hypothetical climatic trajectories:

A car as usual scenario, which assumes greenhouse gas emissions and rising levels of future climate change, and a slightly more moderate scenario.