Occurrence of mites (Acari) and springtails (Collembola) in bird nests on King George Island (South Shetland Islands, Antarctica)

Gwiazdowicz D.J., Niedbała W., Skarżyński D., Zawieja B. (2022). Occurrence of mites (Acari) and springtails (Collembola) in bird nests on King George Island (South Shetland Islands, Antarctica). Polar Biology.

The relationships between birds and invertebrates are very diverse and often extend beyond the host-parasite interaction. Birds can be vectors of some arthropod species and their nests are a specific microhabitat inhabited by mites and springtails. However, the phenomenon is not well described in Antarctica. The aim of this article is to compare the arthropod communities inhabiting the nests of three species of birds and relate observed differences to the biology and ecology of the nest building bird species (i.e., living in colonies or in pairs) as well as the nature of the nest (i.e., nest lining or lack there off). Outcomes include determining the scale of the threat to birds from parasites, as well as to information concerning the ecology (microhabitat preferences) of the arthropod species. The study was conducted in the vicinity of the Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station by comparing the arthropod concentrations in nests of three bird species: Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus), Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) and South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki). Four mite (Acari) species and five springtail (Collembola) species were found in the collected material. None of these species are parasites. The most numerous were Hydrogamasellus racovitzai (Acari, Mesostigmata), Alaskozetes antarcticus (Acari, Oribatida) and Cryptopygus antarcticus antarcticus (Collembola). The results indicate (e.g. the Shannon index, evenness, non-metric multidimensional scaling method, one-way multivariate permutation analysis of variances, Kruskal–Wallis test) significant variability in community composition and individual abundance in the nests dependent on the bird species. Furthermore, that this variability depends on the biology and ecology of the bird species.