Polar Biology

, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 643–651 | Cite as

Salt tolerance and survival thresholds for two species of Antarctic soil nematodes

  • J.N. NkemEmail author
  • R.A. Virginia
  • J.E. Barrett
  • D.H. Wall
  • G. Li
Original Paper


We evaluated the response of the Antarctic soil nematodes Scottnema lindsayae and Plectus antarcticus to various salts (NaCl, MgSO4, KNO3 and NaCl + MgSO4) and salt concentrations in prepared salt solutions ranging from 0.1 to 3 M, and in saturation paste extracts of soils collected from multiple locations where nematode abundance varied from zero to numerous, and where electrical conductivity ranged from 108 to >12,000 μS/cm. Nematode salt tolerance was salt specific; both nematode species survived in low-experimental concentrations of NaCl and MgSO4, and neither species survived in KNO3 solutions of any concentration. There was no survival of nematodes in the saturation paste extracts of highly saline soils (4,100 μS/cm), while survival was over 80–97% in less saline soils (1,945 μS/cm). A 1:1 dilution of these highly saline saturation paste extracts increased S. lindsayae survival to 80%, while survival of P. antarcticus was not observed until dilutions of greater than 200%. The results complement previous studies demonstrating niche partitioning of S. lindsayae and P. antarcticus across salinity gradients and strengthen interpretations of the physiological mechanisms underlying previously reported spatial correlation between soil salinity and nematodes abundance in the Antarctic Dry Valleys.


Osmotic Potential Nematode Species Soil Nematode Snow Pack Leach 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.



This work was supported by National Science Foundation grants OPP 9810219 and OPP 0096250 and is a contribution to the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. Raytheon Polar Services and Petroleum Helicopter, Inc provided logistics support. We thank the staff of the Crary Laboratory, McMurdo Station, especially H. Toben for technical assistance. Paul Zietz, Darmouth College, provided valuable assistance with analysis of soil chemistry.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.N. Nkem
    • 1
    Email author
  • R.A. Virginia
    • 2
  • J.E. Barrett
    • 2
  • D.H. Wall
    • 1
  • G. Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Studies ProgramDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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