2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Collaborative Research: Exploring the functional role of plants during terrestrial succession

Robert Island. Photo by Mike Lucibella. Image courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library.
B-289-E Research Location(s): King George Island


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 1932844

Program Director:
Dr. Rebecca Gast

ASC POC/Implementer:
David Rivera / Jamee Johnson

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Sarah Margaretha Eppley
Portland State University
Department of Biology


Supporting Stations: Special Project
Research Locations: King George Island


This collaborative research project builds on a 2019 pilot study to evaluate the effects of climate change on terrestrial carbon balance in tractable deglaciated sere in an area of the Antarctic Peninsula that provides a strong gradient in primary productivity. The team will be evaluating the effects of warming on soil carbon loss and clarifying the major microbial and plant controls on the process. Team members will use a controlled study of environmental chambers arrayed along a productivity gradient to measure carbon flux change with temperature. The goal is to link shifts in net ecosystem carbon balance to warming effects on individual soil microbes and plant types. The study will further assess the photosynthetic uptake of carbon by the vegetation and its sensitivity to warming. Results will advance research on climate change, plant and soil microbial ecology, and ecosystem modeling.

Field Season Overview

Up to four participants will travel to King George Island (KGI) during the austral summer as part of a collaborative project supported by the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH). The U.S. Antarctic Program support will include travel to and from Punta Arenas for the US-based participants, laboratory supplies (chemicals and consumables), extreme cold weather gear, medical physical qualification, cargo, and northbound sample shipping. INACH will provide logistical field support, including all equipment and transportation between Punta Arenas and KGI. The field team will be based at the Chilean Base Profesor Julio Escudero on KGI and will camp at Robert Island if possible.

Deploying Team Members

  • Rebecca Ball (Co-PI)
  • Hannah Prather
  • Todd Rosenstiel (Co-PI)