Don't Pack a Pest to Antarctica!
Help Protect Antarctica's Pristine Environment from Non-Native Species
Non-Native Species in Antarctica
Non-native species are those species that do not naturally occur in an area and have been introduced either intentionally or unintentionally. A wide range of non-native species now occur in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. These introduced species include microbes, algae, fungi, vascular plants, invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals.
Lessons Learned for Antarctica from the Sub-Antarctic
As noted in the graph below, human activities in the sub-Antarctic islands have contributed to approximately 200 non-native species, both intentional (rabbits and reindeer for food) and unintentional (mice, rats, worms and grasses). They have come to survive in - and sometimes to dominate - their habitats, often causing alterations to the ecosystems through extinction or decreased abundance of native species.
Source: Frenot, Y et al. Biological invasions in the Antarctic: extent, impacts and implications. Biol. Rev. (2005), 80, pp. 45-72.
Be a Responsible Visitor
Despite known introductions of non-native species, Antarctica remains a relatively pristine environment. Human activity has the potential to act as a vector for non-native species. Across the continent, science programs and tour operators are working to minimize the risk of humans being a vector for transporting non-native species into and within the Antarctic.
Still at Home? Here's What You Can Do Before You Go South...
- Download the "Don't Pack a Pest" pamphlet indicated on this page, and make sure everyone in your party has a copy, reads it completely and follows the recommendations.
- Clean and examine clothes and equipment thoroughly: pockets, seams Velcro® fasteners, boot soles, backpacks, camera bags, tripods, etc. for dirt and organic material.
- Pack clean gear: if your gear is still dirty from a previous trip to Antarctica, you could still be transporting a non-native species.
Once You've Arrived...
- Follow all boot and clothing decontamination procedures on your expedition.
- Watch your step, and be careful when walking in areas that contain organic matter. Make sure to clean it off before leaving a site.
- Clean your gear regularly during the trip, and check boots, jacket, hems, etc.
- Tell your guides if you think you have found a non-native species.
When You Get Home...
- Spread the word. Share this information with others, as we all contribute to the health of the Antarctic!
Note: This information is based on a U.S. Antarctic Program leaflet, Don't Pack a Pest