ACE terrestrial biodiversity program

Written by Ian Hogg, University of Waikato
Photos: Ian Hogg & Noé Sardet

Ian Hogg and Mark Stevens, for the project “Functional Biogeography of Antarctica”.

The largest year-round animals to inhabit the Antarctic continent are springtails (primitive insect-like arthropods) and mites – all less than 1.5 mm. The also share the continent with other smaller invertebrate animals including nematode worms and tardigrades (water bears) as well as plants such as lichen and moss. In many cases, these organisms are remnants or relicts from when Antarctica was a much warmer place over 100 million years ago when trees were the dominant vegetation and dinosaurs roamed the land. The landscape has changed much since that earlier time.