The effect of feeding on specific soil algae on the cold-hardiness of two Antarctic micro-arthropods (Alaskozetes antarcticus and Cryptopygus antarcticus)
The effect of consuming terrestrial algae on the cold tolerance of two Antarctic micro-arthropods was examined. From the results of preferential feeding experiments, seven species of Antarctic terrestrial micro-algae were chosen and fed to two common, freeze-avoiding Antarctic micro-arthropods: the springtail Cryptopygus antarcticus (Collembola: Isotomidae), and the mite Alaskozetes antarcticus (Acari: Oribatida). Mites were very selective in their choice of food whereas the springtails were less discriminating. The ice nucleating activity of each species of alga was measured using an ice nucleator spectrometer and a differential scanning calorimeter. Pure cultures of individual species of algae had characteristic supercooling points ranging from ca. −5 to −18 °C. The effect of eating a particular alga on the supercooling point of individual micro-arthropods cultured at two different temperatures (0 and 10 °C) was examined. Neither species showed a preference for algae with low ice-nucleating activity and there was no clear correlation between the supercooling point of food material and that of the whole animal. However, feeding on certain algae such as Prasiola crispa, which contained the most active ice nucleators, decreased the cold tolerance of both species of arthropods.