Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xfwgj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-22T00:42:41.089Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Summer activity patterns for mosses and lichens in Maritime Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2017

Burkhard Schroeter*
Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), D-24098 Kiel, Germany
T.G. Allan Green
Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand Departamento de Biología Vegetal II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, E-28040 Madrid, Spain
Ana Pintado
Departamento de Biología Vegetal II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, E-28040 Madrid, Spain
Roman Türk
Department of Organismic Biology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Leopoldo G. Sancho
Departamento de Biología Vegetal II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense, E-28040 Madrid, Spain


Within Antarctica there are large gradients both in climate and in vegetation which offer opportunities to investigate links between the two. The activity (% total time active) of lichens and bryophytes in hydric and xeric environments was monitored at Livingston Island (62°39'S). This adds a northern site with a maritime, cloudy climate to previous studies in the southern Antarctic Peninsula and the Dry Valleys (78°S). Annual activity increases northwards from less than 1% to nearly 100%. There is a major and consistent difference between hydric sites which, with snow melt, can be 100% active in summer months even in the Dry Valleys, and xeric sites which, depending on precipitation, rarely exceed 80% activity even at Livingston Island. Mosses dominate hydric sites and lichens the xeric sites all along the gradient. Mean temperatures when active are 2–4°C at all sites, as liquid water is required. Light is a potential major stress reaching 880 µmol m-2 s-1 when active in continental sites. The lack of extremes in temperatures and light combined with high activity levels means that summer at Livingston Island is one of the better sites for lichen and bryophyte growth in the world.

Biological Sciences
© Antarctic Science Ltd 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Cannone, N. & Seppelt, R. 2008. A preliminary floristic classification of northern and southern Victoria Land vegetation (Continental Antarctica). Antarctic Science, 20, 553562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colesie, C., Scheu, S., Green, T.G.A., Weber, B., Wirth, R. & Büdel, B. 2012. The advantage of growing on moss: facilitative effects on photosynthetic performance and growth in the cyanobacterial lichen Peltigera rufescens . Oecologia, 169, 599607.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Convey, P. 2013. Antarctic ecosystems. In Levin, S., ed. Encyclopedia of biodiversity, 2nd edition. Oxford: Academic Press, 179188.Google Scholar
Cowan, I.R., Lange, O.L. & Green, T.G.A. 1992. Carbon-dioxide exchange in lichens: determination of transport und carboxylation characteristics. Planta, 187, 282294.Google Scholar
Green, T.G.A. & Lange, O.L. 1994. Photosynthesis in poikilohydric plants: a comparison of lichens and bryophytes. In Schulze, E.-D. & Caldwell, M.M., eds. Ecophysiology of photosynthesis. Berlin: Springer, 319341.Google Scholar
Green, T.G.A., Nash, T.H. III & Lange, O.L. 2008. Physiological ecology of carbon dioxide exchange. In Nash III, T.H., ed. Lichen biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 152181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green, T.G.A., Schroeter, B. & Sancho, L.G. 2007. Plant life in Antarctica. In Pugnaire, F.I. & Valladares, F., eds. Handbook of functional plant ecology. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 389433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green, T.G.A., Sancho, L.G., Pintado, A. & Schroeter, B. 2011. Functional and spatial pressures on terrestrial vegetation in Antarctica forced by global warming. Polar Biology, 34, 16431656.Google Scholar
Green, T.G.A., Kulle, D., Pannewitz, S., Sancho, L.G. & Schroeter, B. 2005. UV-A protection in mosses growing in Continental Antarctica. Polar Biology, 28, 822827.Google Scholar
Hájek, J., Barták, M. & Dubová, J. 2006. Inhibition of photosynthetic processes in foliose lichens induced by low temperature and osmotic stress. Biologia Plantarum, 59, 624634.Google Scholar
Kappen, L. 1988. Ecophysiological relationships in different climatic regions. In Galun, M., ed. Handbook of lichenology, Volume 2. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 37100.Google Scholar
Kappen, L. & Valladares, F. 2007. Opportunistic growth and desiccation tolerance, the ecological success of the poikilohydrous strategy. In Pugnaire, F.I. & Valladares, F., eds. Handbook of functional plant ecology. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 980.Google Scholar
Marschall, M. & Proctor, M.C.F. 2004. Are bryophytes shade plants? Photosynthetic light responses and proportions of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and total carotenoids. Annals of Botany, 94, 593603.Google Scholar
Müller, P., Li, X.P. & Niyogi, K.K. 2001. Non-photochemical quenching. A response to excess light energy. Plant Physiology, 125, 15581566.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Newsham, K.K., Hopkins, D.W., Carvalhais, L.C., Fretwell, P.T., Rushton, S.P., O’Donnell, A.G. & Dennis, P.G. 2015. Relationship between soil fungal diversity and temperature in the Maritime Antarctic. Nature Climate Change, 10.1038/NCLIMATE2806.Google Scholar
Pannewitz, S., Green, T.G.A., Scheidegger, C., Schlensog, M. & Schroeter, B. 2003. Activity pattern of the moss Hennediella heimii (Hedw.) Zand. in the Dry Valleys, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica during the mid-austral summer. Polar Biology, 26, 545551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peat, H.J., Clarke, A. & Convey, P. 2007. Diversity and biogeography of the Antarctic flora. Journal of Biogeography, 34, 132146.Google Scholar
Pontailler, J.-Y. 1990. A cheap quantum sensor using a gallium arsenide photodiode. Functional Ecology, 4, 591596.Google Scholar
Proctor, M.C.F. 2008. Physiological ecology. In Goffinet, B. & Shaw, A.J., eds. Bryophyte biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 237268.Google Scholar
Raggio, J., Green, T.G.A. & Sancho, L.G. 2016. In situ monitoring of microclimate and metabolic activity in lichens from Antarctic extremes: a comparison between South Shetland Islands and the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Polar Biology, 39, 113122.Google Scholar
Reiter, R., Höftberger, M., Green, T.G.A. & Türk, R. 2008. Photosynthesis of lichens from lichen-dominated communities in the alpine/nival belt of the Alps – II: Laboratory and field measurements of CO2 exchange and water relations. Flora, 203, 3446.Google Scholar
Robinson, S.A., Wasley, J. & Tobin, A.K. 2003. Living on the edge – plants and global change in Continental and Maritime Antarctica. Global Change Biology, 9, 16811717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rundel, P.W. 1978. Ecological relationships of desert fog zone lichens. The Bryologist, 81, 277293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sancho, L.G., Green, T.G.A. & Pintado, A. 2007. Slowest to fastest: extreme range in lichen growth rates supports their use as an indicator of climate change in Antarctica. Flora, 202, 667673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sancho, L.G., Schulz, F., Schroeter, B. & Kappen, L. 1999. Bryophyte and lichen flora of South Bay (Livingston Island: South Shetland Islands, Antarctica). Nova Hedwigia, 68, 301338.Google Scholar
Schlensog, M. & Schroeter, B. 2001. A new method for the accurate in situ monitoring of chlorophyll a fluorescence in lichens and bryophytes. Lichenologist, 33, 443452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schlensog, M., Green, T.G.A. & Schroeter, B. 2013. Life form and water source interact to determine active time and environment in cryptogams: an example from the Maritime Antarctic. Oecologia, 173, 5972.Google Scholar
Schreiber, U.B., Bilger, W. & Neubauer, C. 1995. Chlorophyll fluorescence as a nonintrusive indicator for rapid assessment of in vivo photosynthesis. In Schulze, E.-D. & Caldwell, M.M., eds. Ecophysiology of photosynthesis. Berlin: Springer, 4970.Google Scholar
Schroeter, B., Green, T.G.A., Pannewitz, S., Schlensog, M. & Sancho, L.G. 2010. Fourteen degrees of latitude and a continent apart: comparison of lichen activity over two years at Continental and Maritime Antarctic sites. Antarctic Science, 22, 681690.Google Scholar
Schroeter, B., Green, T.G.A., Pannewitz, S., Schlensog, M. & Sancho, L.G. 2011. Summer variability, winter dormancy: lichen activity over 3 years at Botany Bay, 77°S latitude, Continental Antarctica. Polar Biology, 34, 1322.Google Scholar
Schroeter, B., Green, T.G.A., Kulle, D., Pannewitz, S., Schlensog, M. & Sancho, L.G. 2012. The moss Bryum argenteum var. muticum Brid. is well adapted to cope with high light in Continental Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 24, 281291.Google Scholar
Schwarz, A.-M.J., Green, T.G.A. & Seppelt, R.D. 1992. Terrestrial vegetation at Canada Glacier, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Polar Biology, 12, 397404.Google Scholar
Smith, R.I.L. 1996. Terrestrial and freshwater biotic components of the western Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Research Series, 70, 1559.Google Scholar
Søchting, U., Øvstedal, D.G. & Sancho, L.G. 2004. The lichens of Hurd Peninsula, Livingston Island, South Shetlands, Antarctica. Bibliotheca Lichenologica, 88, 607658.Google Scholar
Treonis, A.M., Wall, D.H. & Virginia, R.A. 2000. The use of anhydrobiosis by soil nematodes in the Antarctic Dry Valleys. Functional Ecology, 14, 460467.Google Scholar
Vera, M.L. 2011. Colonization and demographic structure of Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis along an altitudinal gradient on Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. Polar Research, 10.3402/polar.v30i0.7146.Google Scholar
Wagner, M., Trutschnig, W., Bathke, A.C. & Ruprecht, U. 2017. A first approach to calculate BIOCLIM variables and climate zones for Antarctica. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 10.1007/s00704-017-2053-5.Google Scholar
Zotz, G., Schweikert, A., Jetz, W. & Westerman, H. 2000. Water relations and carbon gain are closely related to cushion size in the moss Grimmia pulvinata . New Phytologist, 148, 5967.Google Scholar