Invertebrates in ornithogenic soils on Ross Island, Antarctica

Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499, USA; Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755-3560, USA
Polar Biology (Impact Factor: 2.01). 07/2002; 25(8):569-574. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-002-0386-7

ABSTRACT A habitat suitability model developed for soil biotic communities in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica predicts that soil moisture, organic carbon, and salinity exert control on the abundance and complexity of soil food chains. The model has been intensively tested in dry and carbon-poor soils of the Dry Valleys. To determine the influence of moisture and soil organic mater in wetter soils with high C content, invertebrates (nematodes, rotifers, and tardigrades) from soil samples collected in and near penguin rookeries on Ross Island (Cape Bird, Cape Crozier, and Cape Royds) were examined. Invertebrates were present in less than 50% of all collected soil samples. Although four nematode species were identified (Eudorylaimus antarcticus, Panagrolaimus davidi, Plectus antarcticus, Scottnema lindsayae), only populations of Panagrolaimus davidi were observed in soils collected from within penguin rookeries. Abundances of Panagrolaimus davidi and rotifers differed among rookeries, and year of sampling had a significant effect only on the populations of Panagrolaimus davidi. There were no temporal differences in soil moisture and soil chlorophyll a concentrations within each rookery or across rookeries. No invertebrates were correlated with soil moisture or chlorophyll a at the time of collection. Counter to our expectations, higher nutrient, organic matter, and moisture levels did not result in more abundant and diverse invertebrate communities in the rookery soils. It appears that excessive accumulations of nutrients, creating high soil salinity, may limit soil invertebrate presence within active rookeries.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Terrestrial life in Antarctica has been described as some of the simplest on the planet, and mainly confined to soil microfaunal communities. Studies have suggested that the lack of diversity is due to extreme environmental conditions and thought to be driven by abiotic factors. In this study we investigated soil microfauna composition, abundance, and distribution in East Antarctica, and assessed correlations with soil geochemistry and environmental variables. We examined 109 soil samples from a wide range of ice-free habitats, spanning 2000 km from Framnes Mountains to Bailey Peninsula. Microfauna across all samples were patchily distributed, from complete absence of invertebrates to over 1600 specimens/gram of dry weight of soil (gdw), with highest microfauna abundance observed in samples with visible vegetation. Bdelloid rotifers were on average the most widespread found in 87% of sampled sites and the most abundant (44 specimens/gdw). Tardigrades occurred in 57% of the sampled sites with an abundance of 12 specimens/gdw. Nematodes occurred in 71% of samples with a total abundance of 3 specimens/gdw. Ciliates and mites were rarely found in soil samples, with an average abundance of 1.3 and 0.04 specimens/gdw, respectively. We found that microfaunal composition and abundance were mostly correlated with the soil geochemical parameters; phosphorus, NO3 (-) and salinity, and likely to be the result of soil properties and historic landscape formation and alteration, rather than the geographic region they were sampled from. Studies focusing on Antarctic biodiversity must take into account soil geochemical and environmental factors that influence population and species heterogeneity.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e87529. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Nematodes, rotifers and tardigrades were collected on three nunataks (mountain peaks penetrating the ice sheet) in Vestfjella, on six nunataks in Heimefrontfjella and on the Schirmacher Oasis in East Antarctica in the austral summers of 1996/97 and 2001/02. Most samples were taken on the nunatak Basen in Vestfjella where the Swedish station Wasa is located. The microfauna was patchily distributed and the highest densities of animals were found on sites with visible vegetation of mosses, lichens or algae. Thirty-four taxa of nematodes and tardigrades were found. Only seven of these occurred regularly in apparently actively reproducing populations. Other occasional records of nematodes had very few specimens. The highest number of species was found on the nunatak Basen. Rotifers, found in 66% of the samples, were the most frequent animal group. Nematodes occurred in 37% of the samples and tardigrades in 42%. The most frequent nematodes were Plectus and Panagrolaimus, occurring in 26% and 5% of the samples, respectively. Macrobiotus, Hebesuncus and Acutuncus were the most frequent and abundant tardigrades. The pattern of animal distribution can be related to both habitat characteristics and to the geographic position of the nunatak. The communities are little organised and the distribution of the fauna has similarities with an early phase of colonisation.
    Pedobiologia 08/2004; 48(4):395-408. · 1.69 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Soil biological studies have suggested that generations of terrestrial nematodes in continental Antarctica may take many years. We sampled soil nematodes at three sites in the Adélie penguin colony at Cape Hallett on four dates in a two month sampling period (16 November 2002–18 January 2003). The size class distribution of over 3500 nematodes, and the occurrence of adults, indicate an annual life cycle of the bacterial-feeding Panagrolaimus davidi and Plectus murrayi, at each site. Nematode abundance ranged from 2 to 1375/g dry soil. Moderate temperatures and the regular presence of free water underlie this biological activity and related contribution to soil processes.
    Pedobiologia 01/2009; 52(6):375-386. · 1.69 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 27, 2014