Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 December 2010
Biotic communities in Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems are relatively simple and often lack higher trophic levels (e.g. predators); thus, it is often assumed that species’ distributions are mainly affected by abiotic factors such as climatic conditions, which change with increasing latitude, altitude and/or distance from the coast. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that factors other than geographical gradients affect the distribution of organisms with low dispersal capability such as the terrestrial arthropods. In Victoria Land (East Antarctica) the distribution of springtail (Collembola) and mite (Acari) species vary at scales that range from a few square centimetres to regional and continental. Different species show different scales of variation that relate to factors such as local geological and glaciological history, and biotic interactions, but only weakly with latitudinal/altitudinal gradients. Here, we review the relevant literature and outline more appropriate sampling designs as well as suitable modelling techniques (e.g. linear mixed models and eigenvector mapping), that will more adequately address and identify the range of factors responsible for the distribution of terrestrial arthropods in Antarctica.