What shapes edaphic communities in mineral and ornithogenic soils of Cierva Point, Antarctic Peninsula?
Three mineral soil and four ornithogenic soil sites were sampled during summer 2006 at Cierva Point (Antarctic Peninsula) to study their bacterial, microalgal and faunal communities in relation to abiotic and biotic features.Soil moisture, pH, conductivity, organic matter and nutrient contents were consistently lower and more homogeneous in mineral soils. Ornithogenic soils supported larger and more variable bacterial abundances than mineral ones. Algal communities from mineral soils were more diverse than those from ornithogenic soils, although chlorophyll-a concentrations were significantly higher in the latter. This parameter and bacterial abundance were correlated with nutrient and organic matter contents. The meiofauna obtained from mineral soils was homogeneous, with one nematode species dominating all samples. The fauna of ornithogenic soils varied widely in composition and abundance. Tardigrades and rotifers dominated the meiofauna at eutrophic O2, where they supported a large population of the predatory nematode Coomansus gerlachei. At site O3, high bacterial abundance was consistent with high densities of the bacterivorous nematodes Plectus spp.This study provides evidence that Antarctic soils are complex and diverse systems, and suggests that biotic interactions (e.g. competition and predation) may have a stronger and more direct influence on community variability in space and time than previously thought.
Authors: Mataloni, G., Garraza, G. González, Bötler, M., Convey, P., Fermani, P.