Genetic diversity among populations of Antarctic springtails (Collembola) within the Mackay Glacier ecotone

Genome. 2016 Sep;59(9):762-70. doi: 10.1139/gen-2015-0194. Epub 2016 May 4.


Climate changes are likely to have major influences on the distribution and abundance of Antarctic terrestrial biota. To assess arthropod distribution and diversity within the Ross Sea region, we examined mitochondrial DNA (COI) sequences for three currently recognized species of springtail (Collembola) collected from sites in the vicinity, and to the north of, the Mackay Glacier (77°S). This area acts as a transition between two biogeographic regions (northern and southern Victoria Land). We found populations of highly divergent individuals (5%-11.3% intraspecific sequence divergence) for each of the three putative springtail species, suggesting the possibility of cryptic diversity. Based on molecular clock estimates, these divergent lineages are likely to have been isolated for 3-5 million years. It was during this time that the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) was likely to have completely collapsed, potentially facilitating springtail dispersal via rafting on running waters and open seaways. The reformation of the WAIS would have isolated newly established populations, with subsequent dispersal restricted by glaciers and ice-covered areas. Given the currently limited distributions for these genetically divergent populations, any future changes in species' distributions can be easily tracked through the DNA barcoding of springtails from within the Mackay Glacier ecotone.

Keywords: Antarcticinella monoculata; Cryptopygus nivicolus; Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni; biomonitoring; biosurveillance; changements climatiques; climate change.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Arthropods / classification*
  • Arthropods / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Haplotypes
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Electron Transport Complex IV