Aspects of the biology of the midge, Eretmoptera murphyi Schaeffer (Diptera: Chironomidae), introduced to Signy Island, maritime Antarctic
The biology of a population of the subantarctic chironomid midge Eretmoptera murphyi Schaeffer, introduced to Signy Island in the maritime Antarctic more than 20 years ago, is described. Investment in reproduction by the parthenogenetic adult females is high, with individuals producing single egg batches containing ca. 85 eggs and having a dry weight of more than twice that of the spent female. In culture, egg development rates to hatching are increased significantly by increasing temperature from 2° to 12°C (a range covering mean summer temperatures found in the species' maritime Antarctic habitat, and natural habitat in the subantarctic). The gelatinous matrix of the egg batch forms a skin on drying, which may reduce further water loss, and allow the eggs or pre-emergence larvae to survive the short periods of desiccating conditions likely to occur in their natural habitat. The biology of E. murphyi is compared with that of the endemic maritime Antarctic species Belgica antarctica, showing much similarity. E. murphyi possesses several preadaptations which allow it to survive the harsher conditions of the maritime Antarctic.