Airborne dispersal of antarctic terrestrial algae and cyanobacteria

The dispersal of algae and cyanobacteria at three Antarctic fellfield sites was investigated using microscopic and culture analysis of samples from active and passive air samplers Intersite variation in the mean number of large algal propagules (>5 μm diameter) sampled was dependent on the niche space available for algal growth and the degree to which soil was exposed to desiccating influences, these factors could be related to the degree of maturity of the sue The numbers of large algal propagules were lowest at sites from which permanent snow cover had recently disappeared and highest at sites with developed soil circles but poorly developed moss and lichen flora Mature sites with diverse and developed moss and lichen flora produced intermediate numbers of algal propagules Propagules of multicellular algae, cyanobacteria and large-celled unicellular algae were found in the air at the end of the growing season of the respective algal groups as the soil surface dried This was the case for Prasiola crispa, Pmnularia borealis, snow algae and filamentous chlorophytes and cyanobacteria Dispersal of unicellular chlorophytes was greatest during the summer period and at sites with developed secondary flora, but also occurred at other sites and in association with small thaw events during winter Cultures were obtained from samples collected whilst an air mass that had originated in South America, deposited material on Signy Island This suggests that algal propagules have the ability to survive long-distance transport and potentially provide mocula for colonization of Antarctica as regional warming continues to expose fresh habitats


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Authors: Marshall, William A., Chalmers, Matthew O.

1 December, 1997
Ecography / 20
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