Antarctic flora & fauna (was: New Zealand plants...)

Robin Leech releech at TELUSPLANET.NET
Tue Jul 27 20:00:05 CDT 2004

Fellow Taxacomers,

I spent two years in Antarctica, and have travelled by boat from Antarctica
to New Zealand, and from South America to Antarctica to South Georgia, the
Falkland Islands, and back to South America.

The Drake's Passage is a wide, miserable sea with the predominant winds
blowing from west to East (negating  much possibility of seeds and critters
going from South America west to - by any route, including Antarctica - to
New Zealand and Australia).  The amount of ocean between New Zealand and
Antarctica is even greater than that of Drake's Passage, and often has
weather that is just as miserable as that in Drake's Passage.

It is far more likely that the dominant westerlies could have carried
Nothofagus and associates eastwward across the Indian Ocean to Australia and
New Zealand.  Refugia or not in Antarctica, the winds are blowing the wrong
way, and the Bellingshausen Sea is one of the biggest barometric-low
generating areas of the world.  The famous "dry valleys" (e.g., Taylor Dry
Valley) are dry and ice free only because of strong, dry, cold winds blowing
off the top of the Antarctic ice cap towards the ocean.

I suggest you try another route to give linkage of Nothofagus and relatives.

Robin Leech

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ken Kinman" <kinman2 at YAHOO.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:50 PM
Subject: Antarctic flora & fauna (was: New Zealand plants...)

> John Grehan wrote:
>      I'm not up to date with what is most "generally believed" about the
recency of habitable areas. I would be interested to know what that is these
days. The last I heard was for some surviving Nothofagus on the
trans-Antarctic mountains about 3 myr.
> *******************************************************
> My response:
>      It seems to still be hotly contested whether all of Antarctica was
pretty well set into its deep freeze by 17 million years ago, or whether
there were significant refugia in various areas after that.  If the latter,
these areas could have expanded during warmer periods----there was one
ending about 3 million years ago and if I recall correctly, yet another
significant warming ending about 2.2 million years ago.
>       I think there is perhaps some truth in both viewpoints----generally
a deep freeze for 17 million years, but with small localized pockets of
"refugia" which expanded during thaws.  A flightless weevil was found in the
Pliocene of Antarctica (not sure which part of the Pliocene).  If such
weevils were there throughout the Miocene, then such pockets of refugia
obviously existed.  But I think some of the opposition just argues that the
weevil was perhaps reintroduced during a warm period (but I highly doubt
suggestions that the weevil just blew in, given the seeds that were found
with it).
>       Basically, I think we will just have to wait for more drilling to
discover more fossils.  Drilling in just the right places to find refugia
with fossil remains may be largely a matter of luck.  For all we know, we
could eventually find a significant Antarctic refugium with flies and
weevils and who knows what else, perhaps even into the Pleistocene.  It
wouldn't overly surprise me.
>        ------- Cheers,
>                      Ken Kinman

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