Tardigrades are important members of the Antarctic biota yet little is known about their role in the soil fauna or whether they are affected by anthropogenic factors. The German Federal Environment Agency commissioned research to assess the impact of human activities on soil meiofauna at 14 localities along the Antarctic peninsula during the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 austral summers. We used ordination techniques to re-assess the block-sampling design used to compare areas of high and low human impact, to identify which of the sampled variables were biologically relevant and/or demonstrated an anthropogenic significance. We found the most significant differences between locations, reflecting local habitat and vegetation factor, rather than within-location anthropogenic impact. We noted no evidence of exotic imports but report on new maritime Antarctic sample sites and habitats.
Tardigrada, soil, alien introduction, maritime Antarctic.