Antarctic Terrestrial Microbiology : Invertebrates

TitleAntarctic Terrestrial Microbiology : Invertebrates
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHogg, ID, Stevens, MI, Wall, DH
EditorCowan, DA
Pagination55 - 78
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
CityBerlin, Heidelberg
ISBN Number978-3-642-45212-3

Terrestrial invertebrates are the largest permanent residents for much of the Antarctic continent with body lengths < 2 mm for most. The fauna consists of the arthropod taxa Collembola (springtails) and Acari (mites) as well as the microinvertebrates Nematoda, Tardigrada and Rotifera. Diversity in continental Antarctica is lower compared with warmer regions such as the Antarctic Peninsula and the subantarctic islands and several taxa such as the arthropods have considerably restricted distributions. The highest diversity of invertebrates is found along the Transantarctic Mountains of the Ross Sea Region and taxa are likely to be relicts from a warmer past that have survived in glacial refugia. Dispersal among the extremely fragmented Antarctic landscape is likely to be limited to transport via fresh- or salt-waters, particularly for the arthropod taxa, although long-distance wind dispersal is also possible for the microinvertebrates. Invertebrates possess several adaptations to low moisture levels and extreme cold temperatures in Antarctica. For example, nematodes and tardigrades avoid extreme dry and cold temperatures by entering a desiccation-resistant anhydrobiotic state. In contrast, arthropods do not have such a resistant state and freezing is lethal. Adaptations for the arthropod taxa include freeze avoidance and the production of intracellular, antifreeze proteins. Climate changes in Antarctica are likely to pose significant challenges for the invertebrate fauna. Changes in temperature, soil moisture and associated shifts in taxon distributions as well as the potential for non-indigenous species introductions are all likely to have considerable impacts on the Antarctic fauna. From a conservation perspective, there is a pressing need for terrestrial observation networks to record the present state of Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems as well as to monitor impending changes. Biosecurity measures which minimize species introductions or transfers of organisms within Antarctica will be essential.