, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 107-111

On the uptake of ornithogenic products by plants on the inland mountains of Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, using stable isotopes

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Abstract

Breeding snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea) may be a major source of nutrients for the ecosystems on the inland nunataks (mountain outcrops) of continental Antarctica. To test this theory, the δ15N and δ13C values of soil and plants (moss, lichen and algae) from 11 nunataks with and without breeding snow petrels in northwestern Dronning Maud Land were compared. High δ15N values in all samples from nunataks with breeding birds provide a strong indication of the presence of breeding birds, as well as the use of bird-derived nitrogen by the plants of these ecosystems. The δ13C values showed little difference between the nunataks and are not a useful indicator of bird effects on ecosystem development.

Received: 3 March 1997 / Accepted: 30 March 1998