Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 11, pp 1713–1725 | Cite as

Extended ecophysiological analysis of Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni (Collembola): flexibility in life history strategy and population response

  • A. McGaughranEmail author
  • I. D. Hogg
  • P. Convey
Original Paper


The springtail Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni (Arthropoda: Collembola) has been the focus of extensive ecophysiological and molecular genetic work and is now arguably the most well-studied of the continental Antarctic springtails. Here, we further the ecophysiological catalogue of this species. First, we provide experimental data on G. hodgsoni from one summer season at Cape Bird (Ross Sea Region) examining dispersal ability and desiccation tolerance. Next, we expand an existing metabolic rate dataset that encompasses individual metabolic rate measurements across both temporal and spatial scales in southern Victoria Land, adding an additional season of metabolic rate measurements taken at a cooler, drier continental location (Garwood Valley). Our data show that some G. hodgsoni individuals can survive at least ten days of suspension on the surface of both fresh and sea water. This, coupled with the presence of G. hodgsoni specimens in air and pitfall traps suggests that dispersal over local scales (i.e. metres) is possible for this species. Our metabolic data show that different populations within the same Antarctic region have different average metabolic rates at both temporal and spatial scales, indicating that distinct populations may respond differently to environmental variables. We suggest that G. hodgsoni maintains a flexible life history strategy that allows its ecophysiological response(s) to be dependent on local environmental conditions. Accordingly, there may be no ‘typical’ response to environmental changes—a factor that should be considered in both future ecophysiological work and conservation approaches.


Activity Antarctica Desiccation Dispersal Invertebrate Metabolism Physiology Springtail 



We thank Laurie Beth Connell and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We are also grateful to Antarctica New Zealand for their logistical support. Funding for this project was provided by a New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship and a Sir Robin Irvine Doctoral Scholarship to AM, with the latter also supporting PC’s fieldwork; and by a New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology Grant (UOWX0710) to IH. This paper forms a contribution to SCAR’s Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA), Antarctica New Zealand’s Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP), and British Antarctic Survey’s Polar Science for Planet Earth (PSPE) research programmes.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and EvolutionMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology ResearchUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  3. 3.British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Max Planck Institute for Developmental BiologyDepartment for Evolutionary BiologyTübingenGermany

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