There are approximately 60 species of Collembola recorded from Svalbard. All are small six-legged invertebrates looking like small insects and less than 3mm in length. Many species live in the soil but some, such as the large yellow Megaphorura species, can be seen under rocks, especially under birdcliffs. New species are being continually added to the list from Svalbard, for example two new species being collected from Edgeöya in 2009. Collembola are important in decomposition and nutrient cycling processes. They are best known for their springing ability, hence the common name of springtails or spretthaler. This organ, the furca, is an escape mechanism enabling the animal to propel itself into the air if threatened by a predator. Landing is not all that graceful. Once airborne the animal has no control over its direction and is usually rotating rapidly.
Examples of typical Collembola to be found in Svalbard.