March 12, 2012

Antarctica under siege from Aliens!

Scientists fear that the seeds accidentally brought to Antarctica by the tourists and scientists from different countries of earth may introduce alien plant species which could threaten the survival of native plants in the icy continent.

The study was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal published on Tuesday.

More than 33,000 tourists and 7,000 scientists visit Antarctica each year by ship and aircraft. An international team of scientists has reported that the thousands of seeds inadvertently carried in to the world's last relatively untouched continent Antarctica could fundamentally alter ecosystems of the frozen continent.

They are afraid that the growth of these herbs there would lead to an increase of temperature which would hamper the lives of other native species of the continent.

Steven Chown of Stellenbosch University in South Africa along with an international team of scientists surveyed nearly 5,700 tourists, scientists, ship's crews and support staff during the 2007-08 summer seasons for the experiment.

They searched the clothes, bags and other travel kits of about 850 people and found 2,686 stowaway seeds of the alien species.

Astonishingly each of them had knowingly or unknowingly carried an average of 9.5 seeds. In this toll, while the visitors were carrying the minimum number of seeds, scientists were carrying the double of them and field staffs were carrying even more.

About half of those seized seeds were found to be carried from some cold climate region like the Arctic or the Alps like the Iceland Poppy, Tall Fescue Velvet grass and Annual Winter Grass which are very good for surviving and thriving in the harsh polar environment.

In this way the Antarctic Peninsula, where most tourists travel is although covered with ice, still these days it has transformed into a hot spot. But this increase in temperature is not a good symptom as it would make easier for the alien seeds to propagate there.

The report was given after a long three years of research and experiments.

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