Geothermal bryophyte habitats in the South Sandwich Islands, maritime Antarctic

Authors: Convey, P.; Lewis Smith, R.I.

Source: Journal of Vegetation Science, Volume 17, Number 4, August 2006 , pp. 529-538(10)

Publisher: Opulus Press

Buy & download fulltext article:

OR

Price: $28.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Abstract:

Question: How does geothermal activity influence terrestrial plant colonization, species composition and community development in the Antarctic?

Location: South Sandwich Islands, maritime Antarctic.

Methods: Bryophytes were documented during a biological survey of the archipelago in January and February 1997. Particular attention was given to sites under current or recent influence of geothermal activity. Temperature profiles obtained across defined areas of activity on several islands were linked with the presence of specific bryophytes.

Results: Greatest bryophyte richness was associated with geothermally influenced ground. Of 35 moss and nine liverwort species recorded, only four mosses were never associated with heated ground, while eight of the liverworts and 50% of the mosses were found only on actively or recently heated ground. Some species occur in unheated sites elsewhere in the maritime Antarctic, but were absent from such habitats on the South Sandwich Islands. Several species occurred in distinct zones around fumaroles. Maximum temperatures recorded within the upper 0.5 cm of the vegetation surface were 40 - 47 °C, with only Campylopus introflexus tolerating such temperatures. Maximum temperatures 2.5 or 5 cm below the vegetation surface of this moss reached 75 °C. Other bryophytes regularly present in zoned vegetation included the mosses Dicranella hookeri, Sanionia georgicouncinata, Pohlia nutans and Notoligotrichum trichodon, and the liverworts Cryptochila grandiflora and Marchantia berteroana. Surface temperatures of 25 - 35 °C and subsurface temperatures of 50 - 60 °C were recorded in these species.

Conclusions: These exceptional plant communities illustrate the transport of viable propagules into the Antarctic. Individually ephemeral in nature, the longer term existence of geothermal habitats on islands along the Scotia Arc may have provided refugia during periods of glacial expansion, facilitating subsequent recolonization of Antarctic terrestrial habitats.

Keywords: COLONIZATION; FUMAROLE VEGETATION; GEOTHERMAL ACTIVITY; LIVERWORT; MOSS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

More about this publication?
Related content

Tools

Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content

Text size:

A | A | A | A
Share this item with others: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. print icon Print this page