Passive cloches were deployed at three altitudinally distinct sites on Signy Island, maritime Antarctica, to investigate the effect of ameliorated thermal environment upon fellfield microarthropod communities Temperature was monitored at 1 5 m height, at ground surface level, and at 5 cm depth in cloche and control plots During summer (December ‐ March), cloches elevated monthly mean temperatures by up to 2 46°C at the soil surface and 2 20°C at 5 cm depth Integrated air temperatures over consecutive 10 d periods were up to 4 65°C wanner in cloches than controls During winter (April ‐ November), snow cover of the fellfield sites buffered temperature variation and reduced the treatment effect After eight years of these manipulations, sampling of the upper 50 mm of soil revealed consistently greater microarthropod populations within cloches than in controls (treatment effect p<0.05) Maximum difference occurred at high altitude where thermal amelioration was greatest (site effect p<0.05) Cloche populations of the numerically dominant collembolan Cryptopygus antarcticus Willem contained an increased proportion of small (length < 750 μm) individuals No species new to Signy Island were recorded Relating these microarthropod populations to the ameliorated thermal environment suggests that Antarctic invertebrate communities may respond to global warming, as predicted by global circulation models, with an increase in abundance with little increase in diversity However, this response could be indirect, the intermediate controlling factor being the percentage cover of the soil surface by vegetation, itself a function of climate change
Ecography – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1994
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