Terrestrial invertebrates are the most species-rich animal group in Antarctica and on the Southern Ocean islands.
Terrestrial invertebrates are animals that don’t have a spine, such as insects and worms.
Nematode worms, water bears (tardigrades), wheel-animals (rotifers), springtails and mites are the most common animals on Antarctica.
Beetles and flies are the most species-rich insect groups on the Southern Ocean islands.
Mites and springtails reach densities of several thousand individuals per square meter on maritime Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands.
Earthworms and insects are responsible for most of the nutrient release from dead plant material in the sub-Antarctic.
Many invertebrates in the Antarctic are able to survive subzero temperatures without freezing, while those on the sub-Antarctic islands can freeze without dying.
On the Antarctic continent, water is one of the most important environmental factors determining the distribution and abundance of invertebrates.
The most significant effects of climate change for invertebrates are temperature changes that will effect water availability.
On the Southern Ocean islands the most significant threats to terrestrial invertebrates are alien, invasive species such as mice, rats, and predatory beetles.