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Distribution, Community Structure, and Microhabitats of Soil Invertebrates along an Elevational Gradient in Taylor Valley, Antarctica

Laura E. Powers, Mengchi Ho, Diana W. Freckman and Ross A. Virginia
Arctic and Alpine Research
Vol. 30, No. 2 (May, 1998), pp. 133-141
DOI: 10.2307/1552128
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1552128
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Distribution, Community Structure, and Microhabitats of Soil Invertebrates along an Elevational Gradient in Taylor Valley, Antarctica
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Abstract

Soils in the Antarctic Dry Valleys have been significantly influenced by soil formation factors such as parent material, climate, and topography. Factors common in more temperate zones, including chemical weathering and leaching of minerals, occur to a much lesser extent in these cold arid soils, leading to an accumulation of salts and bases, which will likely affect the distribution of soil biota. Since the intensity of these factors may vary with topography, this study examined the soil properties and soil invertebrate communities along an elevational gradient in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. We sampled from two spatial scales (1 × 1 m and 10 × 10 m) at three sites (83, 121, and 188 m a.s.l) on the south side of Lake Hoare in Taylor Valley, and examined soil moisture, nitrogen, carbon, pH, and electrical conductivity (which provides an estimation of soil salinity), as well as the distribution and community structure of soil invertebrates. We found significant differences in soil properties with elevation, along with associated differences in soil communities. Biodiversity was greatest at the lowest elevation, closest to the shore of Lake Hoare, where soil moisture, carbon, and nitrogen were highest, and salinity was lowest. Scottnema lindsayae dominated the nematode communities found at all sites. Electrical conductivity was higher and carbon and nitrogen contents were lower at the upper elevations. The distribution of both Eudorylaimus and Plectus appeared to be influenced by soil moisture; electrical conductivity affected the mortality of all three nematode genera found. Soil properties did differ with sampling scale, suggesting that changes in microhabitats not detected at sampling intervals of a meter or more may be more reliably detected by sampling at a smaller scale.

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