Aerial dispersal has been frequently proposed as a potential mechanism by which polar terrestrial arthropods are transported to, and settle the ice free habitats of Antarctica, but to date there has been little substantive evidence in support of this hypothesis. Using water traps we investigated aerial deposition of arthropods on Lagoon Island, Ryder Bay, on the Antarctic Peninsula. Over a period of five weeks, trapping at three different altitudes, we captured a total of nine springtails, Cryptopygus antarcticus, all alive. This is the first study to demonstrate conclusively the survival of wind-borne native arthropods within Antarctica. By scaling the modest trapping area and success against island surface area, it is clear that hundreds, if not thousands, of springtails are regularly relocated by winds between the terrestrial habitats of Marguerite Bay. We use known desiccation rates of C. antarcticus and wind speeds to predict the likelihood of successful dispersal between the principal terrestrial habitats of the larger Marguerite Bay. Implications for local and long-range dispersal are discussed in relation to C. antarcticus and other polar arthropods.
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