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AbstractHeterotrophic soil protists encompass lineages that are both evolutionarily ancient and highly diverse, providing an untapped wealth of scientific insight. Yet the diversity of free-living heterotrophic terrestrial protists is still largely unknown. To contribute to our understanding of this diversity, we present a checklist of heterotrophic protists currently reported from terrestrial Antarctica, for which no comprehensive evaluation currently exists. As a polar continent, Antarctica is especially susceptible to rising temperatures caused by anthropogenic climate change. Establishing a baseline for future conservation efforts of Antarctic protists is therefore important. We performed a literature search and found 236 taxa identified to species and an additional 303 taxa identified to higher taxonomic levels in 54 studies spanning over 100 years of research. Isolated by distance, climate and the circumpolar vortex, Antarctica is the most extreme continent on Earth: it is not unreasonable to think that it may host physiologically and evolutionarily unique species of protists, yet currently most species discovered in Antarctica are considered cosmopolitan. Additional sampling of the more extreme intra-continental zones will probably result in the discovery of more novel and unique taxa.
Antarctic Science – Cambridge University Press
Published: Dec 1, 2019
Keywords: Antarctic biodiversity; protist conservation; protist diversity; soil protists
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