Antarctic Science

Life Sciences

Aerial dispersal of springtails on the Antarctic Peninsula: implications for local distribution and demography

T.C. Hawes a1c1, M.R. Worland a2, P. Convey a2 and J.S. Bale a1
a1 School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
a2 British Antarctic Survey, NERC, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OET, UK

Article author query
hawes tc   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
worland mr   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
convey p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
bale js   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Aerial dispersal has been frequently proposed as a potential mechanism by which polar terrestrial arthropods are transported to, and settle the ice free habitats of Antarctica, but to date there has been little substantive evidence in support of this hypothesis. Using water traps we investigated aerial deposition of arthropods on Lagoon Island, Ryder Bay, on the Antarctic Peninsula. Over a period of five weeks, trapping at three different altitudes, we captured a total of nine springtails, Cryptopygus antarcticus, all alive. This is the first study to demonstrate conclusively the survival of wind-borne native arthropods within Antarctica. By scaling the modest trapping area and success against island surface area, it is clear that hundreds, if not thousands, of springtails are regularly relocated by winds between the terrestrial habitats of Marguerite Bay. We use known desiccation rates of C. antarcticus and wind speeds to predict the likelihood of successful dispersal between the principal terrestrial habitats of the larger Marguerite Bay. Implications for local and long-range dispersal are discussed in relation to C. antarcticus and other polar arthropods.

(Published Online February 28 2007)
(Received February 16 2006)
(Accepted May 6 2006)

Key Words: Collembola; Cryptopygus antarcticus; desiccation; Maritime Antarctic; wind.