Biodiversity of the benthos off Kerguelen Islands: overview and perspectives
The Kerguelen Plateau possesses a very diverse benthic fauna. Over the years, the number of species recorded from the Kerguelen has substantially increased. From 172 species reported by Arnaud (1974), the total number of species has increased dramatically to 735 (Jouventin et al., 1996) and then to 960 in the present study. This area is particularly vulnerable to human activities and global climate change. Coastal benthic ecosystems are likely to be heavily impacted. However, these environments have been neglected and understudied during the last 30 years. The Kerguelen Plateau, situated at the northern limit of the Polar Front is probably one of the best study areas to (1) monitor the impact of climate forcing on coastal benthic assemblages; (2) assess the benthic community changes in relation to environmental forcing; and (3) assess the biodiversity of these benthic communities.