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.
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