Spatial and temporal environmental variation in terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems are known to impact species strongly at a local scale, but the ways in which organisms respond (e.g. physiologically, behaviourally) to such variation are poorly understood. Further, very few studies have attempted to assess inter-annual variability of such responses. Building on previous work demonstrating intra-seasonal variation in standard metabolic rate in the springtail Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni, we investigated variation in metabolic activity of G. hodgsoni across two austral summer periods at Cape Bird, Ross Island. We also examined the influence of spatial variation by comparing metabolic rates of G. hodgsoni at Cape Bird with those from two other isolated continental locations within Victoria Land (Garwood and Taylor Valleys). We found significant differences between metabolic rates across the 2 years of measurement at Cape Bird. In addition, standard metabolic rates of G. hodgsoni obtained from Garwood and Taylor Valleys were significantly higher than those at Cape Bird where habitats are comparable, but environmental characteristics differ (e.g. microclimatic temperatures are higher). We discuss potential underlying causes of these metabolic rate variation patterns, including those related to differences among individuals (e.g. physiological and genetic differences), locations (e.g. habitat quality and microclimatic regime differences) and populations (e.g. acclimation differences among G. hodgsoni populations in the form of metabolic cold adaptation (MCA)).
- Metabolic cold adaptation
- Physiological variability