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Keywords:

  • Antarctic;
  • Arctic;
  • belowground;
  • climate change;
  • polar regions;
  • precipitation;
  • soil fauna;
  • warming

Abstract

The polar regions are experiencing rapid climate change with implications for terrestrial ecosystems. Here, despite limited knowledge, we make some early predictions on soil invertebrate community responses to predicted twenty-first century climate change. Geographic and environmental differences suggest that climate change responses will differ between the Arctic and Antarctic. We predict significant, but different, belowground community changes in both regions. This change will be driven mainly by vegetation type changes in the Arctic, while communities in Antarctica will respond to climate amelioration directly and indirectly through changes in microbial community composition and activity, and the development of, and/or changes in, plant communities. Climate amelioration is likely to allow a greater influx of non-native species into both the Arctic and Antarctic promoting landscape scale biodiversity change. Non-native competitive species could, however, have negative effects on local biodiversity particularly in the Arctic where the communities are already species rich. Species ranges will shift in both areas as the climate changes potentially posing a problem for endemic species in the Arctic where options for northward migration are limited. Greater soil biotic activity may move the Arctic towards a trajectory of being a substantial carbon source, while Antarctica could become a carbon sink.