Polar Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 567–576 | Cite as

Organic matter and soil biota of upland wetlands in Taylor Valley, Antarctica

  • Daryl L. MoorheadEmail author
  • John E. Barrett
  • Ross A. Virginia
  • Diana H. Wall
  • Dorota Porazinska
Original Paper


In January 2001, we surveyed streams and ponds above 300 m a.s.l. in Taylor Valley, South Victoria Land, Antarctica. One pond was examined in detail. Organic materials covered nearly 100% of the adjacent soil to 5–20 m from the shore, with intermittent patches to 80 m. Organic matter averaged 257 g C/m2, and totaled 1,388 kg organic C on the soil around the pond. Soil-moisture content (0.56–12.41%) decreased with distance from shore, whereas pH (7.8–10.8) increased with distance. Electrical conductivity was lowest in the soils <10 m from the pond (416±94 µS/cm). Mineral soil organic C and total N concentrations were greatest between 10 and 30 m from the edge of the pond (1.21±0.37 and 0.13±0.05 mg/g soil, respectively). Soil invertebrates were present in only 50% of samples and included tardigrades, rotifers, and two nematodes, Scottnema lindsayae and Plectus antarcticus. A non-parametric, discriminant function analysis based on soil moisture, soil organic carbon, and electrical conductivity correctly predicted 87.0% of sites that had invertebrates and 70.8% of sites for which invertebrates were absent. Tardigrades, rotifers, and P. antarcticus were found only in the wettest soils nearest the pond whereas S. lindsayae was restricted to drier soils further from shore. Other ponds and streams also showed substantial accumulations of organic matter, suggesting that upland wetlands serve as resource islands in these polar deserts that provide a source of organic matter to nearby soils.


Soil Organic Carbon Discriminant Function Analysis Stream Site Adjacent Soil Nearby Soil 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank K. Catapano and K. Levigne for assistance with soil processing, and K. Doggett and the Crary Analytical Laboratory staff for analytical support. Financial support for this work was provided by grants from the United States National Science Foundation OPP-0096250 and INT-9804949.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daryl L. Moorhead
    • 1
    Email author
  • John E. Barrett
    • 2
  • Ross A. Virginia
    • 2
  • Diana H. Wall
    • 3
  • Dorota Porazinska
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth, Ecology and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Studies ProgramDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  3. 3.Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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