Antarctica is isolated from a geographic point of view and by the presence of the Antarctic Circumpolar Ocean Current, leading to a high rate of endemism in the area. Despite this isolation, the continent has a diverse marine ecosystem, including species from the three major groups of macroalgae: Rhodophyta, Chlorophyta and Phaeophyceae. Macroalgae, as primary producers, are fundamental for coastal regions, sustaining a rich marine biodiversity in Antarctica, and are important bioindicators for detecting environmental changes. As the continent is being impacted by climate change and direct human activity (for example tourism), it is necessary to know the local species and their distribution, in addition to carrying out periodic monitoring in order to verify how the ecosystem is being affected by these changes. This project aims to characterize the diversity of macroalgae using molecular (using DNA barcodes) and morphological data in two sites with recurrent human activity (on Deception Island and Admiralty Bay on King George Island) in order to verify the diversity and distribution of macroalgae species, comparing with previous surveys of the local phycoflora. This study will make it possible to complete data on the diversity and distribution of macroalgae and detect possible changes that may be occurring in the region.
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