Over a 2-year study, we investigated the effect of environmental change on the diversity and abundance of soil arthropod communities (Acari and Collembola) in the Maritime Antarctic and the Falkland Islands. Open Top Chambers (OTCs), as used extensively in the framework of the northern boreal International Tundra Experiment (ITEX), were used to increase the temperature in contrasting communities on three islands along a latitudinal temperature gradient, ranging from the Falkland Islands (51°S, mean annual temperature 7.5 °C) to Signy Island (60°S, −2.3 °C) and Anchorage Island (67°S, −3.8 °C). At each island an open and a closed plant community were studied: lichen vs. moss at the Antarctic sites, and grass vs. dwarf shrub at the Falkland Islands. The OTCs raised the soil surface temperature during most months of the year. During the summer the level of warming achieved was 1.7 °C at the Falkland Islands, 0.7 °C at Signy Island, and 1.1 °C at Anchorage Island. The native arthropod community diversity decreased with increasing latitude. In contrast with this pattern, Collembola abundance in the closed vegetation (dwarf shrub or moss) communities increased by at least an order of magnitude from the Falkland Islands (9.0 ± 2 × 103 ind. m−2) to Signy (3.3 ± 8.0 × 104 ind. m−2) and Anchorage Island (3.1 ± 0.82 × 105 ind. m−2). The abundance of Acari did not show a latitudinal trend.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
Journal publication date2008

ID: 331708