Populations of two coexisting Antarctic Collembola were studied in the field and under constant conditions in the laboratory to determine their life cycles and to compare their energy utilisation. 2.
In the field Parisotoma octooculata completes three to four moults during summer, overwintering either in the egg stage or in the fourth or fifth instars. Maturity is reached in the second year, with synchronous oviposition and hatching. Cryptopygus antarcticus has many overlapping generations, maturity is achieved in the third year and oviposition and hatching take place throughout the year. 3.
In the laboratory P. octooculata has a faster rate of growth than C. antarcticus under constant conditions of temperature and humidity. Analysis of gut contents showed that the two species overlapped in their food range; the faster growth of P. octooculata being achieved by a faster consumption rate, since the two species had similar assimilation and production efficiencies. 4.
The slower growth rate of C. antarcticus may not result from limited food availability, but from a better life cycle strategy for unpredictable environmental conditions. P. octooculata, which shows features more characteristic of temperate Collembola, may be a more recent Antarctic colonist.