During the 2017-2018 austral summer, a survey of soil invertebrate diversity and abundance was conducted throughout the Shackleton Glacier region of Antarctica to investigate whether habitat suitability, taxonomic diversity, and community composition follow predictable temporal patterns after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Soil samples were collected along elevation transects from twelve ice-free areas to capture maximum variation in soil properties, geochemistry, and surface exposure age. This data package includes invertebrate abundances (nematodes, tardigrades, rotifers) for each sample categorized by species, sex, and maturity (juvenile, adult).
A total of 232 soils (0-5 cm depth) were collected from twelve ice-free areas along the Shackleton Glacier from December 2017 to January 2018. The locations include Roberts Massif, Schroeder Hill, Bennett Platform, Kitching Ridge, Mt. Augustana, Mt. Heekin, Thanksgiving Valley, Taylor Nunatak, Mt. Franke, Mt. Wasko, Nilsen Peak, and Mt. Speed, and range from 150 to 2221 m.a.s.l. in elevation. Between 14 and 26 soil samples were collected along elevation transects (up to 2000 m in length) from each location to capture maximum variation in soil properties, geochemistry, and surface exposure age.Nematodes, tardigrades and rotifers were extracted using a sugar centrifugation technique developed for Antarctic soils (Freckman & Virginia, 1993), and identified and enumerated via light microscopy. Mites and springtails were picked individually from each sample using a dissection microscope by mixing 50 g soil with 500 ml sugar solution (454 g L-1) and removing individual animals as they floated to the surface. However, microarthropods were depauperate such that they were not assessed in this study. Tardigrades and rotifers were identified to the phylum level, nematodes were identified to genus (Scottnema, Eudorylaimus, and Plectus) and as living or dead, life stage (juveniles or adults), and sex. Soil gravimetric moisture was measured by weighing 50 g subsamples before and after oven drying at 105°C for 24 h. Invertebrate abundances were assessed as the number of individual animals per kilogram of dry soil.Reference Cited: Freckman, D. W., & Virginia, R. A. (1993). Extraction of nematodes from Dry Valley Antarctic soils. Polar Biology, 13(7), 483–487. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00233139
Funding for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation via grants #OPP-1341736 to BJA, #OPP-1341648 to DHW, #OPP-1341631 to WBL, #OPP-1341629 to NF, and #GRFP-60041697 to MAD. Data management support was provided by the National Science Foundation for Long Term Ecological Research via grant #OPP-1637708.