Ecosystems in Antarctica

Penguins walk in the snowy landscape of Antarctica

The ecosystem of Antarctica has adapted to the harsh climatic conditions. These harsh conditions limit the complexity of the food web.

  • On land, there are no trees or shrubs, and very few flowering plants. Mites and midges are at the bottom of the food chain (excluding the Antarctic sub-islands). Organisms are small, with a low total biomass.
  • Penguins, seen on land, rely on food in the sea for their energy and so are part of the marine ecosystem.

Unlike the land, the waters surrounding Antarctica are rich in life. The cold temperatures increase the movement between surface water and deeper water, encouraging the phytoplankton to photosynthesise. The food webs in the oceans are more complex than on the land, and contain more biomass including both whales and penguins.

Antarctica has a rich marine ecology