Antarctic Science

Papers—Life Sciences and Oceanography

The terrestrial biota of Charcot Island, eastern Bellingshausen Sea, Antarctica: an example of extreme isolation

P. Convey a1, R.I.L. Smith a1, H.J. Peat a1 and P.J.A. Pugh a1
a1 British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK

Article author query
convey p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
smith r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
peat h   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
pugh p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


This paper documents the previously undescribed terrestrial fauna (mites, nematodes, tardigrades) and flora (liverworts, mosses and lichens) of Marion Nunataks, Charcot Island (69°45'S 075°15'W). Species diversity in all groups is low relative to other Maritime Antarctic sites, probably a twin function of very limited ice-free terrain and extreme isolation. The fauna and flora are wholly immigrant and, with the exceptions of two lichens (Psilolechia lucida and Umbilicaria aff. thamnodes), clearly derived from the Maritime Antarctic. The fauna is unique for the Maritime Antarctic in that it appears to contain neither predatory arthropods nor Collembola (springtails), which are otherwise ubiquitous and important members of the terrestrial fauna of the zone. The flora includes exceptional development of three mosses that are encountered only rarely at latitudes south of c. 65°S, Brachythecium austrosalebrosum, Dicranoweisia crispula and Polytrichum piliferum. The southern limit for several mosses and lichens has been extended. This small and isolated site is extremely vulnerable to accidental human-mediated introduction of both native Antarctic and alien biota.

(Received January 12 2000)
(Accepted May 5 2000)

Key Words: bryophytes; Charcot Island; geographical isolation; lichens; soil meiofauna and microarthropods.