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Co-variation in soil biodiversity and biogeochemistry in northern and southern Victoria Land, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2006

J.E. Barrett
Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA
R.A. Virginia
Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA
D.H. Wall
Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
S.C. Cary
College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
B.J. Adams
Microbiology and Molecular Biology and Evolutionary Ecology Laboratories, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA
A.L. Hacker
University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
J.M. Aislabie
Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton, New Zealand


Data from six sites in Victoria Land (72–77°S) investigating co-variation in soil communities (microbial and invertebrate) with biogeochemical properties showthe influence of soil properties on habitat suitability varied among local landscapes as well as across climate gradients. Species richness of metazoan invertebrates (Nematoda, Tardigrada and Rotifera) was similar to previous descriptions in this region, though identification of three cryptic nematode species of Eudorylaimus through DNA analysis contributed to the understanding of controls over habitat preferences for individual species. Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis profiles revealed unexpectedly high diversity of bacteria. Distribution of distinct bacterial communities was associated with specific sites in northern and southern Victoria Land, as was the distribution of nematode and tardigrade species. Variation in soil metazoan communities was related to differences in soil organic matter, while bacterial diversity and community structure were not strongly correlated with any single soil property. There were no apparent correlations between metazoan and bacterial diversity, suggesting that controls over distribution and habitat suitability are different for bacterial and metazoan communities. Our results imply that top-down controls over bacterial diversity mediated by their metazoan consumers are not significant determinants of bacterial community structure and biomass in these ecosystems.

Research Article
Antarctic Science Ltd 2006

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