Preliminary description of tardigrade species diversity and distribution pattern around coastal Syowa Station and inland Sør Rondane Mountains, Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica.
Tardigrades are important members of the simple terrestrial ecosystems in the extreme environments in Antarctica. This study provides a baseline description of tardigrade species diversity and distribution pattern within the terrestrial and lake environments of the coastal regions around Syowa Station and the neighbouring inland Sør Rondane Mountains, Dronning Maud Land. We combined data obtained from new and previously described collections and updated data available in the existing literature. We recorded five tardigrade species, three of which (Echiniscus pseudowendti Dastych 1984, Hebesuncus ryani Dastych and Harris 1994, Pseudechiniscus sp.) have not previously been reported from the area, increasing the total recorded tardigrade diversity for this region of continental Antarctica to ten species. The results of our study indicate that tardigrades have been and are major components of the lake environment community in continental Antarctica, with Acutuncus antarcticus (Richters 1904) the most common and dominant species. Our data confirm that the tardigrade species diversity in the vicinity of Syowa Station is very low and suggest potential relationships between individual tardigrade species and terrestrial moss species and depth in freshwater ecosystems.