Tardigrade eggs and exuviae in Antarctic lake sediments: insights into Holocene dynamics and origins of the fauna
AbstractThe preservation of tardigrade eggs and exuviae in Antarctic lake sediments provided an opportunity to assess post-glacial colonisation and Holocene tardigrade dynamics on the southern continent. Tardigrade eggs were recovered from five lakes, two from the maritime Antarctic and three from continental Antarctica. Eggs were identified from the following species: Dactylobiotus cf. ambiguus, Macrobiotus furciger, Macrobiotus blocki, Minibiotus weinerorum and Acutuncus antarcticus. Other, unornamented eggs were also observed. The preservation of some of these eggs in exuviae allowed identification to at least genus. Significant variations were observed in egg abundance within the sediment of each lake, and in one lake a species (Dactylobiotus cf. ambiguus) became locally extinct, probably as the result of penguin-associated eutrophication. Tardigrades generally did not become abundant for a considerable period after the lakes’ formation. The presence of an in-part endemic fauna is consistent with slow colonisation from Antarctic sources rather than wind transport from extra-continental sites. Tardigrade eggs appear to be abundant in high-latitude lake sediments, and greater use could be made of these records when evaluating tardigrade dynamics during the Holocene.
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