2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Biology & Medicine

Dr. Polly Penhale
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 98-10219
Station: McMurdo Station
Research Site(s): Dry Valleys

McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER: The role of natural legacy on ecosystem structure and function in a polar desert
Dr. Ross A. Virginia
Dartmouth College
Environmental Studies Program

Deploying Team Members: John E Barrett . Jennifer Mercer . Ross A Virginia
Research Objectives: Soil productivity component of McMurdo LTER. This season the group will focus on:

- The influence of climate and edaphic factors on carbon and nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems of the Antarctic Dry Valleys.

- The influence of climate and soil chemistry on the distribution and abundance of soil biodiversity in the Antarctic Dry Valleys.

- Understanding the linkages between soil biological communities and underlying ecosystem functioning.

- Evaluating the influence of changes in climate on terrestrial ecosystems and invertebrate communities.

Field Season Overview:
The researchers plan to study the influence of environmental conditions on carbon and nitrogen cycling and on the abundance and distribution of biota in Dry Valley soils. As in past years Diana Wall (BM-042-W) and Ross Virginia (BM-042-V) will work closely together, sharing office space, lab space and helicopter hours.

Based in McMurdo, the project team members will make day trips by helicopter to sites in the Dry Valleys. They will collect soil samples and measure in situ soil carbon dioxide flux. They will incubate soils from the Lake Fryxell area in intact soil chambers located in Beacon Valley, and Beacon Valley soils in the Lake Fryxell area. They will install additional sensors at the meteorological station in Beacon Valley and at the long term experiments (BEE plots) in the Fryxell and Bonney basins.