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Composition and origin of underground arthropod fauna in an extrazonal permafrost soil of central Europe

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Evaporation cold brings about all-season icing of the soil that covers an aerated talus deposit (Mount Matzen, Carinthia, Austria; about 1100 m above sea level). This extrazonal permafrost area represents a very rare mire type (condensation water mire) as well as a particular sort of underground biotope, a milieu souterrain superficiel. The subterranean fauna is poor in species and is characterized by troglobitic artropods such as the catopid beetle Aphaobius milleri brevicornis, the dipluran Paurocampa n.sp. and the Collembola Onychiurus mildneri and O. vomatscheri. All these species were confirmed in neighbouring caves.

The thick talus layer has been accumulated under peri- and postglacial conditions. Today it spreads out over the karstic bedrock and covers the interconnected rock fissures, the source of the subterranean fauna. The Holocene origin of the talus mantle suggests a (sub-)recent colonization of the permafrost interstice by cave-dwelling species.

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Dedicated to the late Prof. Dr. M.S. Ghilarov

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Christian, E. Composition and origin of underground arthropod fauna in an extrazonal permafrost soil of central Europe. Biol Fert Soils 3, 27–30 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00260575

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Key words

  • Permafrost soil
  • Condensation water mire
  • Milieu souterrain superficiel
  • Cave fauna
  • Arthropods