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Abstract

In polar regions, apart from tundra and glaciers, geothermally active areas with elevated temperatures are important elements of ecosystems. One such geothermally active region characterized by mosaic ecosystems and vast areas covered by recent lava fields is Iceland. The aim of our study was to explore the diversity of invertebrates inhabiting geothermally active lava fields in the Krafla area (Iceland). Eight bryophyte samples were collected from a warm surface, mainly from the steaming areas. We have found Nematoda, Rotifera, Tardigrada and Oribatida in the samples. Habitat analysis demonstrated there to be 12 bryophyte species (five liverworts and seven mosses). The diversity of bryophytes in a single sample ranged from one to six species. The most common bryophyte was Racomitrium lanuginosum (Hedw.) Brid. Four species of tardigrades were found, including one that was new. Pilatobius islandicus sp. nov. is described herein by morphological, morphometric and molecular approaches (COI, 28S rRNA, 18S rRNA). Oribatida mites were identified as two species (Malaconothrus monodactylus (Michael, 1888) and Camisia foveolata Hammer, 1955). The average density of invertebrates was 13.1 ind./g with a maximum of 40.8 ind./g calculated per dry material. The tardigrades found in our study belonged to herbivores, microbivores and omnivores, whereas the mites belonged to saprophages, which indicates complex trophic networks in geothermally active lava fields.
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Abstract

Nematoda, Tardigrada, Rotifera and Crustacea composition in different freshwater habitats on Spitsbergen (Arctic) and King George Island (Antarctic) was presented. In all surveyed groups more genera and species were recorded from Spitsbergen than from King George Island. Habitats richest in taxa were moss banks and thaw ponds, whereas streams were poorest in species. In all groups in both regions cosmopolitan species dominated, but higher number of endemic species was recorded on King George Island. Regarding species composition in surveyed groups it can be suggested that freshwater habitats on Spitsbergen are more similar to each other than those on King George Island.
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