Temperature preferences of the mite, Alaskozetes, and the collembolan, Cryptopygus antarcticus from the maritime Antarctic

Scott Hayward, MR Worland, P Convey, Jeffrey Bale

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The thermal preferences of Alaskozetes antarcticus (Acari, Cryptostigmata) and Cryptopygus antarcticus (Collembola, Isotomidae) were investigated over 6 h within a temperature gradient (-3 to +13 degreesC), under 100% relative humidity (RH) conditions. After 10 days of acclimation at -2 or +11 degreesC, individual supercooling points (SCP) and thermopreferences were assessed, and compared with animals maintained for 10 days under fluctuating field conditions (-6 to +7 degreesC). Acclimation at -2 degreesC lowered the mean SCP of both A. antarcticus (-24.2 +/- 9.1) and C. antarcticus (-14.7 +/- 7.7) compared to field samples (-19.0 +/- 9.0 and -10.7 +/- 5.2, respectively). Acclimation at +11 degreesC increased A. antarcticus mean SCP values (-13.0 +/- 8.5) relative to field samples, whereas those of C. antarcticus again decreased (-16.7 +/- 9.1). Mites acclimated under field conditions or at +11 degreesC selected temperatures between -3 and +1 degreesC. After acclimation at -2 degreesC, both species preferred +1 to +5 degreesC. Cryptopygus antarcticus maintained under field conditions preferred +5 to +9 degreesC, whereas individuals acclimated at +11 degreesC selected +9 to +13 degreesC. For A. antarcticus , thermopreference was not influenced by its cold hardened state. The distribution of field specimens was further assessed within two combined temperature and humidity gradient systems: (i) 0-3 degreesC/12% RH, 3-6 degreesC/33% RH, 6-9 degreesC/75% RH and 9-12 degreesC/100% RH and (ii) 0-3 degreesC/100% RH, 3-6 degreesC/75% RH, 6-9 degreesC/33% RH and 9-12 degreesC/12% RH. In gradient (i), C. antarcticus distributed homogeneously, but, in gradient (ii), C. antarcticus preferred 0-3 degreesC/100% RH. Alaskozetes antarcticus selected temperatures between 0 and +6 degreesC regardless of RH conditions. Cryptopygus antarcticus appears better able than A. antarcticus to opportunistically utilize developmentally favourable thermal microclimates, when moisture availability is not restricted. The distribution of A. antarcticus appears more influenced by temperature, especially during regular freeze-thaw transitions, when this species may select low temperature microhabitats to maintain a cold-hardened state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003


  • Collembola
  • thermopreference
  • mite
  • Antarctic
  • supercooling point
  • microhabitat selection


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