John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Soil invertebrate community change over fuel‐contaminated sites on a subantarctic island: An ecological field‐based line of evidence for site risk assessment

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A number of fuel spills, of both recent and historic origins, have occurred on World Heritage listed subantarctic Macquarie Island. Sites contaminated by mainly diesel fuels are undergoing remediation by the Australian Antarctic Division. The risks posed by these sites are being managed using a “weight of evidence” approach, for which this study provides a preliminary line of evidence for the ecological assessment component of this site management decision framework. This knowledge is pertinent, given the absence of environmental guidelines for fuel contaminants in subantarctic ecosystems. We provide a field‐based site‐specific ecological risk assessment for soil invertebrate communities across the fuel spill sites, before the commencement of in situ remediation activities. Springtails (Collembola) were the most abundant taxa. Springtail community patterns showed only limited correlations with the level of fuel contamination at the soil surface, even when elevated levels occurred in the substratum layers. Of the environmental variables measured, community patterns were most strongly correlated with vegetation cover. We identify a suite of 6 species that contribute most to the community dynamics across these sites. A subset of these we propose as useful candidates for future development of single‐species toxicity tests: Folsomotoma punctata, Cryptopygus caecus, Cryptopygus antarcticus and Parisotoma insularis. Findings from this study advance our understanding of soil invertebrate community dynamics within these contaminated sites, directly contributing to the improved management and restoration of the sites. Not only does this study provide an important line of evidence for the island's ecological risk assessment for fuel contaminants, it also enhances our understanding of the potential impact of fuels at other subantarctic islands. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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