Early knowledge of Antarctica's vegetation: Expanding past and current evidence
To commemorate one hundred years of Roald Amundsen's reaching the South Pole, we provide a summary of early explorations to Antarctica, in which botanists played an almost anonymous role. Based on multiple observations of vegetation they found and recorded, we review the knowledge available at the end of the nineteenth century to compare with contemporary scientific beliefs; connecting them with observations we have collected in field-work. Using the aerial photography from the end of the 1950s of sites we visited, it is noted that opportunities are arising for the understanding of colonization phenomena in areas where ice is retreating. Accounts of research on colonization of new ice-free areas are analyzed as well as how molecular genetics attempts to deduce the early settlements. Finally, an analysis of conservation in Antarctica is provided and its outlook discussed.