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Volume 13, Issue 6 p. 316-324
Review

Polar lessons learned: long-term management based on shared threats in Arctic and Antarctic environments

Joseph R Bennett

Corresponding Author

Joseph R Bennett

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

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Justine D Shaw

Justine D Shaw

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Australia

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Aleks Terauds

Aleks Terauds

Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Australia

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John P Smol

John P Smol

Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada

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Rien Aerts

Rien Aerts

Department of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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Dana M Bergstrom

Dana M Bergstrom

Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Australia

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Jules M Blais

Jules M Blais

Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

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William WL Cheung

William WL Cheung

Sea Around Us, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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Steven L Chown

Steven L Chown

School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

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Mary-Anne Lea

Mary-Anne Lea

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, Australia

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Uffe N Nielsen

Uffe N Nielsen

Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, Australia

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Daniel Pauly

Daniel Pauly

Sea Around Us, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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Kenneth J Reimer

Kenneth J Reimer

Environmental Sciences Group, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Canada

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Martin J Riddle

Martin J Riddle

Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Australia

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Ian Snape

Ian Snape

Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Australia

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Jonathan S Stark

Jonathan S Stark

Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Australia

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Vivitskaia J Tulloch

Vivitskaia J Tulloch

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

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Hugh P Possingham

Hugh P Possingham

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

School of Life Sciences, Silwood Park Imperial College London, Ascot, UK

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First published: 01 August 2015
Citations: 56

Abstract

The Arctic and Antarctic polar regions are subject to multiple environmental threats, arising from both local and ex-situ human activities. We review the major threats to polar ecosystems including the principal stressor, climate change, which interacts with and exacerbates other threats such as pollution, fisheries overexploitation, and the establishment and spread of invasive species. Given the lack of progress in reducing global atmospheric greenhouse-gas emissions, we suggest that managing the threats that interact synergistically with climate change, and that are potentially more tractable, is all the more important in the short to medium term for polar conservation. We show how evidence-based lessons learned from scientific research can be shared between the poles on topics such as contaminant mitigation, biosecurity protocols to reduce species invasions, and the regulation of fisheries and marine environments. Applying these trans-polar lessons in tandem with expansion of international cooperation could substantially improve environmental management in both the Arctic and Antarctic.