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Rapid denudation processes in cryptogamic communities from Maritime Antarctica subjected to human trampling

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 March 2013

L.R. Pertierra
Affiliation:
Dpto. Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, c/ Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
F. Lara
Affiliation:
Dpto. Biología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, c/ Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
P. Tejedo
Affiliation:
Dpto. Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, c/ Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
A. Quesada
Affiliation:
Dpto. Biología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, c/ Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
J. Benayas
Affiliation:
Dpto. Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, c/ Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This study explores the impact of human trampling on moss and lichen dominated communities of Maritime Antarctica. A simulation of trampling was performed on previously unaffected plots of different terricolous cryptogamic assemblages at Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island. The communities studied were: 1) a uniform moss carpet, 2) a heterogeneous moss assemblage composed of hummocks and turfs, and 3) a fellfield lichen community. All communities analysed were extremely sensitive but different denudation processes were observed. None of the plots maintained 50% of initial coverage after 200 pedestrian transits. Even very low trampling intensity resulted in disturbance at all plots. Sensitivities of the different communities were identified in order to formulate recommendations for minimizing the trampling impacts. In our study the lichen dominated community on dry exposed soils exhibited the lowest resistance to trampling. For moss communities, lower resistance was found in peat soils with higher water content and biomass. With the current trend of increasing human presence in Antarctica, we predict that the cumulative impacts of trampling over future decades will adversely affect all types of moss and lichen communities.

Type
Research Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2013

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Rapid denudation processes in cryptogamic communities from Maritime Antarctica subjected to human trampling
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