Cold hardiness of Collembola at Signy Island, maritime Antarctic
The cold hardiness of two Antarctic species of Collembola, Cryptopygus antarcticus Willem and Parisotoma octooculata (Willem), was studied in field fresh, starved and low temperature acclimated specimens at Signy Island, in the South Orkney Islands. Supercooling points of both species clearly fell in a high group (HG) and a low group (LG) with a division at ca. -15°C. Field fresh specimens mainly had HG supercooling points, while starvation at 5° and 15°C greatly increased the number of LG animals. Further evidence of the relation between supercooling and feeding status was obtained in C. antarcticus. Specimens fed moss turf homogenate almost entirely returned to HG supercooling points, indicating the presence of efficient nucleators in this substrate. In specimens fed purified green algae a high proportion of LG supercooling points was retained, which suggests a lack of nucleators in this kind of food. Increased ability of LG specimens to supercool was demonstrated in C. antarcticus following acclimation at -5°C, and in P. octooculata at 0°C. In C. antarcticus an increase in concentrations of cryoprotective substances took place at -5°C concurrent with the lowering of the mean supercooling point. The main substances of the multicomponent cryoprotectant system of this species were trehalose, mannitol and glycerol. Chill-coma temperatures of specimens collected in the field differed in C. antarcticus and P. octooculata with mean values of -8.3° and -4.8°C, respectively. P. octooculata was less resistant to anaerobic conditions than C. antarcticus. All specimens of the former species were killed within 8 d in nitrogen at 0°C, while ca. 30% of C. antarcticus specimens survived after 28 d.