Vegetation abundance and diversity in relation to soil nutrients and soil water content in Vestfold hills, East Antarctica

Michelle R. Leishman*, Christie Wild

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Eighteen paired sites (adjacent to vs away from sea bird nests) and six transects (downslope of nests) across Vestfold Hills were sampled for vegetation, soil nutrients, soil water content and percent rock cover. Three moss and 17 lichen species were recorded, including a new record for the lichen Sarcogyne privigna. Sites adjacent to nesting areas generally had higher soil N and P than sites away from nesting areas; however, larger differences between site locations than within site pairs suggests considerable variation in nutrient input between nesting areas and/or redistribution of nutrients by meltwater around nests. Along transects below nesting sites, average soil total N declined from 0.22% to 0.05% within 2 m from the nest, while average total P declined more gradually from 2343 ppm P to 697 ppm P at 30 m from the nest. Moss and lichen species diversity and mean lichen species abundance were higher in sites adjacent to compared with away from nests. Data from site pairs and transects showed that lichen diversity and abundance increased with increasing soil nutrients, with soil P having a stronger influence than soil N. In contrast, soil nutrients were not significantly associated with moss diversity or abundance. Instead, number of moss species and abundance were positively associated with soil water content.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)126-134
    Number of pages9
    JournalAntarctic Science
    Volume13
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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