Chair: Torbjørn Ekrem
Norwegian University of Science and Technology,
Vice-chair: Peter Smith
Senior Research Scientist,
National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd,
Hamilton, New Zealand
Life in the polar regions has evolved in response to the profound cooling that occurred during the Pleistocene. Because these organisms are adapted to low temperatures, global warming threatens them with a best-case scenario of a radical range compression or a worst outcome of extinction.
As a consequence, the iBOL consortium has prioritized efforts to assemble a comprehensive barcode library for polar life. Aside from the urgency created by global warming, research programs linked to the International Polar Year (2008-2010) http://www.ipy.org/ are providing a unique opportunity for action. Massive sampling programs have been launched that will gather unprecedented numbers of specimens suitable for barcode analysis. These sampling missions will make a huge in-kind contribution to iBOL; $50M will be directed toward marine sampling programs in the Southern Ocean alone during field season 2008-2009.
Because diversity in polar regions is low, a reference library with records for 20,000 species will provide comprehensive coverage.