High zooplankton diversity in the extreme environments of the McMurdo Dry Valley lakes, Antarctica

Lars-Anders Hansson, Samuel Hylander, Herbert J.G. Dartnall, Sven Lidström, Jan-Erik Svensson

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The McMurdo Dry Valley lakes of Antarctica constitute some of the harshest and most isolated freshwater environments on Earth which might be expected to limit the biogeographical expansion of many organisms. Despite this, we found that the biodiversity of rotifer zooplankton is the highest ever recorded on the Antarctic mainland. We identified in total nine rotifer taxa, of which six are new to the Antarctic continent, in Lake Hoare, and also the first sub-adult crustacean copepod belonging to the genus Boeckella. A possible explanation for the high biodiversity is that many of the recorded species have arrived in the region in relatively recent times and then established invasive populations, suggesting that their distribution pattern was previously limited only by biogeographical borders. Interestingly, we show that the cosmopolitan rotifer taxa identified are relatively abundant, suggesting that they have established viable populations. Hence, our study suggests that the biogeographical maps have to be redrawn for several species.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)131-138
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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