Influence of marine vertebrates on organic matter, phosphorus and other chemical element levels in Antarctic soils

The presence of marine vertebrates in dense reproductive colonies and other aggregations contributes to the input of organic matter and nutrients into the local environment and it is believed that chemical elements are subsequently remobilized from the excreta of these animals. In this study, we investigated the influence of marine vertebrates on trace elements levels (As, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Li, Lu, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sc, Se, Sm, Sn, Sr, Tb, U and Zn), nutrient (total phosphorus) and soil organic matter (SOM) content from five locations with and without the presence of seabirds and marine mammals in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. Soils were acid digested using a microwave digestion system, elements were quantified using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and SOM was calculated by loss-on-ignition. The non-influenced and vertebrate-influenced soils had similar concentrations of most of the trace elements assessed, however, we observed a significant increase in SOM and P that was positively correlated with the concentrations of As, Cd, Se, Sr and Zn. Although marine vertebrates did not appear to significantly increase the elemental concentrations in the soils examined here, there is a clear evidence of selective enrichment indicating a zoogenic influence. Comparing our results with other studies, we conclude that soil elemental levels are result from an interplay between local geology, vertebrate diet and colony size. Further studies with increased sample size are required to obtain a better understanding of the influence of marine vertebrates on chemical element levels in Antarctic soils.


Publication status:
Authors: Souza-Kasprzyk, Juliana, de Castro Paiva, Thais, Convey, Peter ORCIDORCID record for Peter Convey, da Cunha, Larissa Schmauder Teixeira, Soares, Tuany Alves, Zawierucha, Krzysztof, Costa, Erli Schneider, Niedzielski, Przemyslaw, Torres, João Paulo Machado

On this site: Peter Convey
12 October, 2022
Polar Biology
Link to published article: