Only 0.33 % of the Antarctic land surface area is free of ice, with much of this area representing fell-field environments. Antarctic fell-fields are a type of tundra ecosystem that are generally nutrient-limited (especially N) and have a sparse cover of vegetation that is dominated by lichen or bryophytes, although dense vegetative cover and even vascular plants can be present in moister fell-field habitats. Environmental conditions are generally unfavourable in fell-field Antarctic environments, but these soils are spectacular in terms of the diversity of conditions that they offer for microbial life. This is reflected in the variety of microbial taxa and functions that can be found in these environments. Several factors were identified as having strong influences on the microbial communities inhabiting Antarctic fell-field soils, including water, temperature, plants, birds and pH. This chapter reviews microbiological studies that have been carried out in Antarctic fell-field soils.
Springer International Publishing
Antarctic Terrestrial Microbiology (8 March 2014): 115–129.