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Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 8, pp 1197–1208 | Cite as

Terrestrial biodiversity along the Ross Sea coastline, Antarctica: lack of a latitudinal gradient and potential limits of bioclimatic modeling

  • C. ColesieEmail author
  • T. G. A. Green
  • R. Türk
  • I. D. Hogg
  • L. G. Sancho
  • B. Büdel
Original Paper

Abstract

Antarctica has several apparent advantages for the study of biodiversity change along latitudinal gradients including a relatively pristine environment and simple community structures. Published analyses for lichens and mosses show no apparent gradient in biodiversity along the western Ross Sea coast line, the longest ice-free area in Antarctica spanning 14° latitude. One suggestion is that the area remains poorly surveyed. Here, we combine available species lists from four sites along the coast with new own data from two additional sites [Taylor Valley (77°30′S) and Diamond Hill (79°S)]. We show a decline in total terrestrial biodiversity with latitude from Cape Hallett (72°S) to Diamond Hill. However, the southernmost site, the Queen Maud Mountains (84°S), is exceptional with almost the same diversity as Cape Hallett. A categorization of lichens according to their proposed ecology shows the proportion of tolerant species remains relatively constant. However, the absolute number of conformant species declines with latitude, again with a minimum at Diamond Hill. Similarity indices are low and not very different between sites with Diamond Hill being the exception with very few species. We suggest that terrestrial biodiversity best reflects microhabitat water availability rather than macroclimatic temperature changes and use climate data from Taylor Valley and Diamond Hill to support this suggestion. We propose that the importance of microhabitats and landscape location is one of several possible limitations to the application of bioclimatic modeling along the Ross sea coastline. In the absence of a definitive link between macroclimate and the biota, predicting the effects of climate changes will be more challenging.

Keywords

Lichens Biogeography Microclimate Diamond Hill Bioclimatic envelope Antarctic biodiversity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Antarctica New Zealand (AntNZ) for logistical support over several years as part of the LGP coordinated by Shulamit Gordon. Logistics support was also provided by the Australian Antarctic Programme, the Spanish National Antarctic Program and the US Coastguard Reserve. The University of Waikato Vice Chancellor’s Fund and the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato provided financial assistance with field costs. The research was supported by the New Zealand MBIE grant, “Understanding, valuing and protecting Antarctica’s unique terrestrial ecosystems: predicting biocomplexity in Dry Valley ecosystems,” and TGAG by the Spanish Education Ministry Grants Nos. POL2006-08405 and CTM2009-12838-C04-01. BB and CC acknowledge the DFG Schwerpunktprogramm 1158 (BU 666/11-1). Thanks to O. Breuss for the identification of Verrucaria species, to U. Ruprecht, and to H. Reichenberger for field support. We thank Dr. A. Fountain for making available the microclimate data from Lake Fryxell (Lake Fryxell Meteorological Station Measurements, knb-lter-mcm. 7010.7). Special thanks to Dr. R. Wirth for support with the statistical analyses and to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Colesie
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. G. A. Green
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. Türk
    • 4
  • I. D. Hogg
    • 2
  • L. G. Sancho
    • 3
  • B. Büdel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Ecology and SystematicsUniversity of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Departamento de Biologia Vegetal II, Farmacia FacultadUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain
  4. 4.Fachbereich Organismische BiologieUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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