The rapidly changing Arctic provides excellent opportunities for investigating primary succession on freshly deglaciated areas. Research on the Gåsbreen foreland (S Spitsbergen) traced the succession of particular groups of organisms and species, particularly lichens and bryophytes, and determined the effect of selected abiotic factors on this succession. Fieldwork in 2008, employed a continuous linear transect of phytosociological relevés (1 m2) along the foreland. Data analysis allowed to distinguish five different succession stages and three types of colonisers. Canonical correspondence analysis and a permutation test showed that distance from the front of the glacier and fine grain material in the substrate mostly influenced the distribution and abundance of vegetation, and the steepness of the moraine hills affected the colonisation process, mainly in the older part of the marginal zone.
The aim of this study was to identify a suitable lichen species for the long−term monitoring of heavy−metal atmospheric pollution in Svalbard. Cladonia and Cetraria s.l. species that have been widely used until now for assessing heavy−metal deposition in the Arctic are in decline over extensive areas of Svalbard, mainly due to climate change and over−grazing by reindeer. Cetrariella delisei , rarely used for biomonitoring, is still common and widespread in this area. Levels of Cr, Ni, Fe, Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd and Mn were measured in three lichen species: Cetrariella delisei , Cladonia uncialis , Flavocetraria nivalis and in a moss Racomitrium lanuginosum from Sørkapp Land, South Spitsbergen. The results imply that Cetrariella delisei can be safely compared to Cladonia uncialis for identifying the levels of heavy metals, but direct comparison between Cetrariella delisei and other species studied is more difficult owing to differences in levels of heavy metals even in samples from the same site.
Long term changes (46 years) in the a bundance of pygoscelid penguins breeding populations and nests distribution in the Lions Rump (King George Island) colony were investigated in three time intervals, according to previously published two censuses and one original study conducted in 2010. At that time a detailed colony map based on the GIS system was made. Results of this study showed different trends for each investigated species. In the last three decades Adélie penguin breeding populations showed strong declining tendencies (69.61%). In contrast, the population of gentoo penguins represents the reverse trend, increasing 171.85% over the same period. Observed changes in both penguin population sizes are reflected in the different spatial and geographic distribution of their nests. The population changes observed at the Lions Rump colony are consistent with the relevant pygoscelid penguin tendencies in the western Antarctic Peninsula region. Breeding penguin population dynamics at Lions Rump area with a minimal disturbance by human activity may well illustrate a natural response of those birds to environmental changes in the Antarctic.
This study investigated leaf mesophyll cells of Caryophyllaceae plants growing in polar regions – Cerastium alpinum and Silene involucrata from the Hornsund region of Spitsbergen island (Svalbard Archipelago, Arctic), and Colobanthus quitensis from the Admiralty Bay region on King George Island (South Shetland Islands, West Antarctic). Ultra− structural changes were analyzed in mesophyll protoplasts of plants growing in natural Arctic and Antarctic habitats and plants grown in a greenhouse, including plants exposed to short−term cold stress under se mi−controlled conditions. Cell organelles of plants growing in natural polar habitats and greenhouse−grown plants were characterized by significant morphological plasticity. Chloroplasts of plants studied in this work formed variously shaped protrusions and invaginations that visibly increased the contact area between adjacent cell compartments and reduced the distance between organelles. S. involucrata plants grown under greenhouse conditions, tested by us in this wor k, were characterized by highly dynamic cell nuclei with single or multiple invaginations of the nuclear membrane and the presence of channels and cisternae filled with cytoplasm and organelles. Crystalline inclusion proteins were observed in the cell nuclei of C. quitensis between nuclear membranes and in the direct proximity of heterochromatin. Our study revealed significant conformational dynamics of organelles, manifested by variations in the optical density of matrices, membranes and envelopes, in particular in C. quitensis , which could suggest that the analyzed Caryophyllaceae taxa are well adapted to severe climate and changing conditions in polar regions.