Response of Antarctic terrestrial microarthropods to long-term climate manipulations
The terrestrial biota of the Antarctic Peninsula region are experiencing marked changes in climate, especially rising temperatures, precipitation, and UV-B radiation-a combination unique worldwide. These changes, combined with the inherent simplicity of terrestrial communities, have led to their use as "model systems" to predict the future climate change responses of biota at lower latitudes. However, studies integrating responses at different levels of the community trophic structure are lacking.We report here the consequences on the soil microarthropod community of a four-year, multivariate, climate-manipulation experiment carried out over vegetation near Palmer Station, Anvers Island, western Antarctic Peninsula. The experiment used a multifactorial randomized-block design, deploying filters to raise temperatures and reduce ultraviolet (UV)-B (280-320 nm) or both UV-B and UV-A (320-400 nm) radiation of existing vegetation, with further water and fertilizer amendment treatments.Seven microarthropod species recovered in sufficient numbers for statistical analyses showed considerable spatial aggregation independent of treatment, a feature typical of many soil invertebrates. Analyses using negative binomial generalized linear modeling identified further significant and consistent treatment impacts on both individual species and species groups. Relative to controls, manipulations increasing temperature decreased numbers of microarthropods (particularly Collembola), as did exposure to near-ambient levels of UV radiation (separate significant effects for both UV-A and UV-B), while water amendment increased numbers. The impacts of temperature and water are consistent with our understanding of the importance of these two environmental variables and their interaction in Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. The negative impact of UV (-A or -B) on arthropod heterotroph and detritivore populations in the Antarctic terrestrial food web is likely to be a secondary consequence of UV impact on vegetation characteristics. This is, again, consistent with general predictions of the impact of changing UV climate on ecosystem function.