Widespread colonization by polar hypoliths

Cockell, Charles S. and Stokes, M. Dale (2004). Widespread colonization by polar hypoliths. Nature, 431(7007) p. 414.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/431414a


High-latitude polar deserts are among the most extreme environments on Earth. Here we describe a large and previously unappreciated habitat for photosynthetic life under opaque rocks in the Arctic and Antarctic polar deserts. This habitat is created by the periglacial movement of the rocks, which allows some light to reach their underside. The productivity of this ecosystem is at least as great as that of above-ground biomass and potentially doubles previous productivity estimates for the polar desert ecozone.

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