Svalbard. Pictographic. Invertebrate. Database and. Educational. Resource.

Collembola, the springtails

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.
<i>Lepidocyrtus lignorum</i> collected in Bjørndalen (also showing <i>Folsomia quadrioculata, Hypogastrura</I> sp. as well as oribatid and prostigmatid mites)
Collembola (springtails, spretthaler) in the centre and elongated grey animals with two mites top right and lower left. Densities of these animals can be extremely high. In Svalbard densities of the sprintails are commonly around 500,000 individuals per square metre and mites in the tens of thousands.


A beautiful photograph of <i>Isotoma anglicana</i>. The springing organ, the furca, can be seen partially extended and pointing straight down. In life the furca lies flat along the underside of the organ. Should a rapid escape be required the furca can be released pressing down on the ground and flipping the animal into the air.
The collembolan Isotoma viradis. An adult animal is approxiamely 3mm long

<i>Megaphorura arctica</I> and eggs under a rock in Hornsund. August 2008.

Close up of the head of a  springtail, Ceratophysella species.

Examples of typical Collembola to be found in Svalbard.

Left, <i>Agrenia bidenticulata</I>. Right, <i>Ceratophysella longispina</I>
Two springtails, left: Agrenia bidenticulata. Right: Ceratophysella longispina


Left, <i>Desoria neglecta</I>. Right <i>Desoria olivacea</I>.
Left: Desoria neglecta. Right: Desoria olivacea.


Left, <i>Sminthurides malmgreni</I> (dark red), <i>Arrhopalites pricipalis</I> (pink, long subdivided antennae). Right, <i>Sminthurinus concolor</I>
Left: Sminthurides malmgreni (dark red), Arrhopalites pricipalis (pink, long subdivided antennae).  Right: Sminthurinus concolor


Left, <i>Folsomia quadrioculata</I> (above), <i>F. sexoculata</I> (below). Right, <i>Protaphoirura macfadyeni</I> (slim), <i>Oliagphorura groenlandica</I> (pear-shaped).
Left: Folsomia quadrioculata (above) and F. sexoculata (below). Right: Protaphoirura macfadyeni (slim) and Oliagphorura groenlandica (pear-shaped).


Left, <i>Tetracanthella arctica</I> (4 big anal spines). Right, <i>Hypogastrura viatica</I>,
Left: Tetracanthella arctica (4 big anal spines). Right: Hypogastrura viatica


Left, <i>Desoria tshernovi</I>. Right, <i>Agrenia bidenticulata</I>
Left: Desoria tshernovi. Right: Agrenia bidenticulata


Left, <i>Friesea quinquespinosa</I>. Right, <i>Parisotoma notabilis</I>
Left: Friesea quinquespinosa. Right: Parisotoma notabilis