Vol. 10 No. 2
Diversity of nematodes in Antarctica under changing climatic conditions
Author(s): V. V. Gantait
Abstract: Antarctica covers an area of about 14 million Km2, more or less double the size of Australia and equal to China and India combined together. The continent broadly represents three distinct climatic regions: the sub-Antarctic, maritime and continental Antarctica with the sub-Antarctic being the most favourable and continental Antarctica is being the most hostile environments. The long-term isolation and harsh climatic condition of Antarctica is reflected by the low number of nematode species as well as a high degree of endemism. Historical glaciations events and the current spatial isolation of habitable soils have led to a very patchy distribution of nematode communities and no apparent overlap in nematode species between maritime and continental Antarctica. The gentler climate in maritime Antarctica causes highest nematode diversities there rather than continental Antarctica. In recent years, rapid, albeit complex changes in local climate have been observed in Antarctica, particularly in the Antarctic Peninsula with substantial impacts on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Nematode communities in Antarctica are directly as well as indirectly affected by the climate changes. Climate warming causes lower environmental stress, increases the duration of metabolic activity, growth rates and shorten life cycles; through these combined influences increase population sizes. Increasing temperatures may alter species composition and favourable opportunistic nematode species. A warmer and wetter climate increases the area of vegetated soil and plant species diversity. The range expansion and increased plant species diversity will provide a greater area of more favourable habitats for nematodes. Although there have been few empirical studies on the effect of climate changes on nematode communities in Antarctica, large-scale coordinated efforts to explore climate change impacts on such communities would give better information.....
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