Polar Record


Return of the megaherbs: plant colonisation of derelict ANARE station buildings on sub-Antarctic Heard Island

J. Whinam a1, P.M. Selkirk a2, A.J. Downing a2 and Bruce Hull a3
a1 Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia
a2 Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
a3 Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia

Article author query
whinam j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
selkirk pm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
downing aj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hull b   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Buildings were constructed and artefacts left behind on sub-Antarctic Heard Island, associated with Antarctic research expeditions since 1926. Both bryophytes and vascular plants are colonising many parts of the now derelict buildings. On these structures and artefacts, the authors recorded four species of vascular plants out of the 11 that occur on Heard Island and nine species of mosses out of the 37 recorded from Heard Island. The vascular plant species most frequently recorded colonising structures and artefacts was Pringlea antiscorbutica (288 occurrences), with the area colonised varying from 0.3 cm2 to 430.0 cm2. Muelleriella crassifolia was the moss species that was most frequently recorded (14 occurrences), colonising areas from 2.1 cm2 to 12.9 cm2. The highest number of bryophyte species (seven) was recorded on the stone and cement of the ‘water tank.’ Pringlea antiscorbutica, Poa cookii, Azorella selago, Muelleriella crassifolia, Bryum dichotomum, Dicranoweisia brevipes and Schistidium apocarpum are all expected to continue to colonise the ANARE ruins, as well as areas that have become available since building removal and also possibly areas bared by further deglaciation.

(Received November 2003)