Original Paper

Polar Biology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 346-352

First online:

Wind dispersal of soil invertebrates in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

  • Johnson N. NkemAffiliated withNatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • , Diana H. WallAffiliated withNatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University Email author 
  • , Ross A. VirginiaAffiliated withEnvironmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College
  • , John E. BarrettAffiliated withEnvironmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College
  • , Emma J. BroosAffiliated withNatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • , Dorota L. PorazinskaAffiliated withFort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida
  • , Byron J. AdamsAffiliated withMicrobiology and Molecular Biology, Brigham Young University Provo

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Dispersal of soil organisms is crucial for their spatial distribution and adaptation to the prevailing conditions of the Antarctic Dry Valleys. This study investigated the possibility of wind dispersal of soil invertebrates within the dry valleys. Soil invertebrates were evaluated in (1) pockets of transported sediments to lake ice and glacier surfaces, (2) wind-transported dust particles in collection pans (Bundt pans) 100 cm above the soil surface, and (3) sediments transported closer to the surface (<50 cm) and collected in open top chambers (OTCs). Invertebrates were extracted and identified. Nematodes were identified to species and classified according to life stage and sex. Three species of nematodes were recovered and Scottnema lindsayae was the most dominant. There were more juveniles (∼71%) in the transported sediments than adults (29%). Tardigrades and rotifers were more abundant in sediments on lake and glacier surfaces while nematodes were more abundant in the dry sediment collections of Bundt pans and OTCs. The abundance of immobile (dead) nematodes in the Bundt pans and OTCs was three times greater than active (live) nematodes. Anhydrobiosis constitutes a survival mechanism that allows wind dispersal of nematodes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Our results show that soil invertebrates are dispersed by wind in the Dry Valleys and are viable in ice communities on lake surfaces and glaciers.