The Southern Ocean has a major influence on the ocean dynamics and
climate wordwide. The Southern Ocean is characterised by its unique macrofauna dominated by abundant, diversified filtering organisms. Endemicity is very high due to the shelf isolation, circum-antarctic surface currents and thick ice coverage which onsets must have occurred some 40 mya. Recent past repeated ice advances and retreats promoted rapid speciations in some benthic groups, along with morphological adaptations. Some groups, like the poikilotherm, not iso-osmotic to seawater teleosts, developped in Antarctica physiological adaptations like antifreeze glycoproteins in their blood and gut. Climatic changes in Antarctica
will likely have a strong effect of the climate wordlwide because of the
regulatory role of the Southern Ocean. But it will surely have a role in benthic faunal changes because many species are presently stenotherm. For the moment Eastern antarctica is poorly affected by climate change and human activities. Biodiversity is exceptionnally high there comparing with arctic benthic fauna and the faunal assemblages described to date make this area a really unique patchwork of ecosystems. This area is therefore appropriate to establish a spot of reference to measure the biotic and abiotic parameters on the long run, which will allow to measure the structure and variability of an ecosystem in « normal » situations. The data that will be obtained will be of great importance for managing protected marine areas.