2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

The role of glacial history on the structure and functioning of ecological communities in the Shackleton Glacier region of the Transantarctic Mountains

Researchers collect soil samples across environmental gradients in Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica.
Photo by Byron Adams.


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Leslie Blank

Principal Investigator

Dr. Byron J Adams

Brigham Young University
College of Life Sciences
Provo, Utah


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Shackleton Glacier


The goal of this project is to comprehensively characterize the functional, taxonomic, biotic, and abiotic drivers of soil ecosystems in the context of their response to deglaciation since the last glacial maximum (LGM). The researchers hypothesize that there will be patterns of community structure, such as diversity and function, which are independent of local heterogeneity. Researchers anticipate that these patterns will exist across a wide range of environmental variables and spatial scales such as the local, landscape, and regional scales, and that the patterns are correlated with time since the LGM. This correlation would be evident in variables such as the soil age and the sample position with respect to the LGM elevation, which varies by location between approximately 2456 meters above sea level (ASL) near the polar plateau to 1100 meters ASL near the base.

Field Season Overview

Seven project participants, including six scientists and one ASC mountaineer, will reside at Shackleton Camp for approximately two weeks, and will make day trips by helicopter to collect soil samples from nine features in the area. The team will collect samples at two sites on each feature from both above and below the last glacial maximum (LGM) elevation to characterize the drivers of these soil ecosystems in the context of their response to deglaciation. Each sampling area covers approximately 100 square meters.

Deploying Team Members

  • Byron Adams (PI)
  • Marcella Adams
  • Noah Fierer (Co-PI)
  • Ian Hogg
  • William Lyons (Co-PI)
  • Diana Wall (Co-PI)