The terrestrial arthropod fauna and its habitats in northern Marguerite Bay and Alexander Island, maritime Antarctic
Field surveys of free-living terrestrial microarthropods were made during the 1994–95 summer at four sites in northern Marguerite Bay (Anchorage Island, Lagoon Island, Léonie Island, Rothera Point; c. 68°S, 68°W) and three on southern Alexander Island (Two Step Cliffs, Fossil Bluff, Ablation Valley; c. 71–72°S, 68°W). Detailed site descriptions are presented, as little previous information exists. Twenty species (four Collembola, 16 Acari) were recorded from the Marguerite Bay sites, with a maximum of 17 species at one site. A further four species (one Collembola, two Acari, one Diptera) have been recorded from the same area by other authors. Species diversity at these sites, in particular Léonie Island, is as great as at any known site elsewhere in the maritime Antarctic, although the total area of terrestrial habitat available is small. Individual species and total population densities are also similar to, if not greater than, published studies from the South Shetland and South Orkney Islands. None of the species is new to the maritime Antarctic, although the distributions of several are extended southwards. Only nine species (maximum seven at one site) were found on Alexander Island, concurrent with decreases in population densities to levels similar to those found in many continental Antarctic studies. This still represents a high species diversity for such a high latitude site. The richness of two sites, Ablation Valley and Mars Oasis (Two Step Cliffs), is unlikely to be repeated elsewhere on Alexander Island. The Alexander Island fauna is clearly related to that of the maritime Antarctic, as all except one species occur at more northerly sites elsewhere on the Antarctic Peninsula, and none in the continental Antarctic. One species, Friesia topo (Collembola), is known only from Alexander Island.