In this paper, we synthesize recorded observations of moss, lichen and bird species in Bunger Hills, East Antarctica, and assess the role of environmental controls, including sediment, salinity, moisture and geology, on species' distributions. The distribution of snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea) appears to be associated with geology; they nest by preference in crevices in bedrock outcrops around the margins of the hills or wherever jointed cliffs are found. South polar skuas (Catharacta maccormicki) are seen throughout Bunger Hills, where they nest and prey on snow petrels. Mosses and lichens were most abundant around the ice margins where fresh snow and ice meltwater are abundant. In the central area of Bunger Hills, where the highest salt concentration in sediments is found and exposure to abrasion by wind-driven mineral sand grains and ice particles is greatest, mosses and lichens are reduced in abundance and diversity. Exposure of parts of Bunger Hills from the ice sheet throughout the Last Glacial Maximum, c. 20 ka bp, means that some land and lakes could have acted as regional refugia and as a locus of recolonization of other ice-free areas.