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Springtails on the edge: an ecotone near the McMurdo Dry Valleys

Springtails on the edge: an ecotone near the McMurdo Dry Valleys
Kristi R. Bennett


Kristi R. Bennett and Ian D. Hogg
International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand


Transitions from one ecosystem type to another (ecotones) are known to provide sensitive indicators of environmental changes. This study aimed to improve our understanding of the patterns of biodiversity for terrestrial ecosystems in the Ross Dependency, and in particular the distribution of springtails (Collembola) in South Victoria Land. In the early 1960's, sampling in the Mackay Glacier region recorded the distributions of the widespread Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni as well as two previously unknown species: Antarcticinella monoculata and Neocryptopygus nivicolus. The latter two species appeared range restricted, with A. monoculata known from only two locations: Springtail Point on the southern edge of the Mackay Glacier, and Mt George Murray to the north. N. nivicolus was known only from a few sites in the vicinity of the Mackay Glacier.

Sampling during the most recent summer field season (2012/13) confirmed the presence of A. monoculata at Springtail Point, and also extended the distribution of N. nivicolus and the widespread Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni to sites on the lower reaches of Mt Gran on the northern side of the Mackay Glacier. South of Mackay Glacier and despite extensive sampling and apparently suitable habitat throughout the Dry Valley region, only Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni has been found. We suggest that the Mackay Glacier ecotone may be a region of rapid change in response to environmental changes and should be further investigated for use as a potential indicator of impending climate change.

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This page was last modified on 2 September 2013.