DPL00039: Assessing terrestrial climate change impacts on a sub-Antarctic archipelago


South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) harbour marine and terrestrial biodiversity of global conservation importance. Although these islands are remote and well protected from many human impacts, climate change (and its interactions with other impacts including invasive non-native species) poses a substantial threat to their ecosystems.

The impacts of climate change on the SGSSI marine environment were recently evaluated via a Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) assessment; however, since the designation of the entire landmass of SGSSI as a Terrestrial Protected Area (TPA) in 2022, there has been a critical need for a corresponding assessment for the terrestrial environment. This will enable focussed action to monitor and mitigate climate change impacts and harmonise environmental protection across both marine and terrestrial environments.

This project aims to determine the consequences of climate change for terrestrial ecosystems in SGSSI, by assessing future ecological change and potential management approaches, which will inform evidence-based decision-making for monitoring and mitigating climate change impacts throughout the SGSSI Terrestrial Protected Area (TPA).


To improve GSGSSI and stakeholder understanding of potential impacts of climate change on SGSSI terrestrial ecosystems
To identify future management actions/priorities that will support the TPA management framework
To understand key knowledge gaps that may be prioritised in the TPA Research and Monitoring Plan

Project Manager


Rob is a community ecologist and conservation scientist, interested broadly in the causes and consequences of biodiversity in (primarily marine) ecosystems.

Following his PhD research in marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at Queen’s University Belfast, Rob has worked extensively in South Atlantic UK Overseas Territories (Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia) on various marine and fisheries sustainability projects, combining baseline data collection with local capacity building to support future ecological monitoring and management. His most recent postdoctoral research projects at the Natural History Museum in London, in partnership with SAERI and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), involved the exploration of seaweed diversity in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia via molecular-assisted taxonomy, analysis of historical change in species distributions using herbarium records, and development of citizen science projects for monitoring coastal habitats. He also has an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection from the University of Wales, Bangor, and an MA in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford.

Rob joins SAERI as a Climate Change Ecologist to manage this project to assess terrestrial climate change impacts on SGSSI


This project is funded by the UK Government through Darwin Plus Local (project DPL00039) and is led by the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) in partnership with SAERI and BAS

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