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Summer activity patterns for mosses and lichens in Maritime Antarctica

  • Burkhard Schroeter (a1), T.G. Allan Green (a2) (a3), Ana Pintado (a3), Roman Türk (a4) and Leopoldo G. Sancho (a3)...

Within Antarctica there are large gradients both in climate and in vegetation which offer opportunities to investigate links between the two. The activity (% total time active) of lichens and bryophytes in hydric and xeric environments was monitored at Livingston Island (62°39'S). This adds a northern site with a maritime, cloudy climate to previous studies in the southern Antarctic Peninsula and the Dry Valleys (78°S). Annual activity increases northwards from less than 1% to nearly 100%. There is a major and consistent difference between hydric sites which, with snow melt, can be 100% active in summer months even in the Dry Valleys, and xeric sites which, depending on precipitation, rarely exceed 80% activity even at Livingston Island. Mosses dominate hydric sites and lichens the xeric sites all along the gradient. Mean temperatures when active are 2–4°C at all sites, as liquid water is required. Light is a potential major stress reaching 880 µmol m-2 s-1 when active in continental sites. The lack of extremes in temperatures and light combined with high activity levels means that summer at Livingston Island is one of the better sites for lichen and bryophyte growth in the world.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
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