Life history strategy of Lepraria borealis at an Antarctic inland site, Coal Nunatak
Coal Nunatak is an ice-free inland nunatak located on southern Alexander Island, adjacent to the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Situated close to the Antarctic continent, it is characterized by harsh environmental conditions. Macroscopic colonization is restricted to micro-niches offering suitable conditions for a small number of lichens and mosses. The extreme environmental conditions place particular pressures on colonizers. Lepraria borealis is the dominant crustose lichen species present on Coal Nunatak, and shows distinctive features in its life history strategy, in particular expressing unusually low selectivity of the mycobiont towards potential photobionts. To assess selectivity, we measured algal DNA sequence polymorphism in a region of 480–660 bp of the nuclear internal transcribed spacer region of ribosomal DNA. We identified three different photobiont species, belonging to two different genera. We interpret this strategy as being advantageous in facilitating the colonization and community dominance of L. borealis under the isolation and extreme environmental conditions of Coal Nunatak.
Authors: Engelen, Andreas, Convey, Peter ORCID record for Peter Convey, Ott, Sieglinde