Remains of tardigrades have rarely been reported to preserve in sediments, resulting in the absence of important ecological and biogeographic information that they could provide. However, a study of faunal microfossils in Antarctic lake sediment cores has shown that tardigrade eggs and occasionally exuvia can be abundant. Eggs from at least five tardigrade species were identified in sediment cores from six lakes from across the continent, with abundances up to 6,000 (g(-1) dry wt.). It is likely that the cold temperatures and absence of benthic grazers in Antarctic lakes results in particularly good preservation conditions, though it may also be a function of population density. The conservation of tardigrade eggs and exuvia in lake sediments enables a better understanding of paleodistributions and effects of environmental changes for this phylum that cannot otherwise be obtained.
Authors: Cromer, Louise, Gibson, John A.E., McInnes, Sandra J., Agius, Janelle T.