Flora and Fauna

Microbial organisms can be found at all but the driest sites in the region.

Microbial organisms, especially yeasts, can be found at all but the driest sites in the region. Where there is sufficient water algae, cyanobacteria, mosses, lichens and also occur, along with tiny invertebrate animals such as rotifers, tardigrades and nematodes. Large ‘flushes’ of vegetation occur in particularly wet areas in the Taylor Valley at Canada Glacier, Miers Valley, Garwood Valley and Granite Harbour. A distinct zone of lichen growth flourishes at around 1000-2000m altitude due to moisture from the frequent cloud layer at this height. Springtails are found in coastal parts of the Area. Cryptoendolithic communities also exist – these are organisms (typically a combination of cyanobacteria and lichen) living within the pores of sandstone rock to avoid drying out. Biological research in the region has a long history, with the original specimen of the moss Didymodon gelidus collected at Granite Harbour in 1902.


Image: Lichen and moss species found in the Granite Harbour area: Lecanora expectans, Caloplaca citrina, Buellia frigida, Bryu © Tracey Jones, Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection: K024C 07/08




Snowy Rock

Wright Glacier and Labyrinth, from Mount Thor. © Andris Apse, Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection: K211 07/08