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Ecosystem Dynamics in a Polar Desert: The McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Ecosystem Dynamics in a Polar Desert: The McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

John C. Priscu (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-66831-3

Mar 2013, American Geophysical Union

369 pages

Select type: O-Book


Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Antarctic Research Series, Volume 72.

The McMurdo Dry Valleys of southern Victoria Land comprise the largest ice?]free expanse (about 4000 km2) on the Antarctic continent. Research in this region began during British expeditions of the early 1900's and has yielded much information on specific physical, chemical and biological features of the area. Only recently have scientists begun to view the region as an integrated system which includes dynamic interactions among biotic and abiotic components of the environment. The McMurdo Dry Valleys represents the coldest and driest desert on this planet. Photoautotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms that are intimately linked with the presence of liquid water and nutrients dominate the biological assemblages. Owing to the low average temperature (−20° C) in the region, liquid water is a rare commodity that often exists for a short period only and occurs in many inconspicuous places. It is now clear that the presence of liquid water produces a cascade of tightly coupled events that ultimately leads to the biological production and cycling of organic carbon and related elements. It also is clear that an integrated knowledge of biological, chemical, and physical factors is required to understand biogeochemical dynamics within the cold desert ecosystem of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. While various aspects of this ecosystem have formed the basis of several excellent publications, the compendium of manuscripts published within this volume represents a first attempt to compile complementary information on the abiotic and biotic components of the McMurdo Dry Valleys and link them in a final synthesis chapter.

The Antarctic Research Series
Board of Associate Editors  ix

John C. Priscu  xi

Section 1: Physical and Hydrological Environment

The Composite Glacial Erosional Landscape of the Northern McMurdo Dry Valleys:
Implications for Antarctic Tertiary Glacial History
Michael L. PrenticeJ, ohanK leman, and Arjen P. Stroeven  1

Solar Radiation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Gayle L . Dana, Robert A . Wharton Jr., and Ralph Dubayah  39

Glaciers of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica
Andrew G. Fountain, Gayle L. Dana, Karen J. Lewis, Bruce H. Vaughn, and Diane M. McKnight  65

Geochemical Linkages Among Glaciers, Streams, a nd Lakes Within the Taylor Valley, Antarctica
W. Berry Lyons, Kathy A . Welch, Klaus Neumann, Jefrey Toxey, Robyn M. cArthur,
Changela Williams, Diane M. McKnight, and Daryl  Moorhead  77

Section 2: Stream Environment

Hydrologic Processes Influencing Streamflow Variation in Fryxell Basin, Antarctica
Peter A . Conovitz, Diane M. McKnight, Lee H. MacDonald, Andrew G. Fountain, and Haroldt Z. House  93

Longitudinal Patterns in Algal Abundance and Species Distribution in Meltwater Streams
in Taylor Valley, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica
Diane M. McKnight, Alex Alger, Cathy M. Tate, Gordon Shupe, and Sarah SpauMing  109

Primary Production Processes in Streams of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Ian Hawes and Clive Howard-Williams  129

Modeling Nitrogen Transformations in Dry Valley Streams, Antarctica
Daryl L. Moorhead, Diane M. McKnight, and Cathy M. Tate 141

Section 3: Lake Environment

Physical Limnology of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Lakes
Robert H. Spigel and John C. Priscu  153

Optical Properties of the McMurdo Dry Valley Lakes, Antarctica
Clive Howard-Williams, Anne-Maree Schwarz, Ian Hawes, and John C. Priscu  189

Cobalt Cycling and Fate in Lake Vanda
William J. Green, Donald E . Canfield, and Philip Nixon  205

The Abundance of Ammonium-Oxidizing  Bacteria in Lake Bonney, Antarctica,
Determined by Immunofluorescenc, PCR, and in Situ Hybridization
Mary A. Voytek, Bess B. Ward, and John C. Priscu 217

Pigment Analysis of the Distribution, Succession and Fate of Phytoplankton in the
McMurdo Dry Valley Lakes of Antarctica
Michael P. Lizotte and John C. Priscu 229

Fluorescence Quenchingin Phytoplankton of the McMurdo Dry Valley Lakes
(Antarctica): Implications for the Structure and Function of the Photosynthetic Apparatus
Patrick J. Neale and John C. Priscu 241

Protozooplankton and Microzooplankton  Ecology in Lakes of the Dry Valleys, Southern Victoria Land
Mark R. James, Julie A . Hall, and Johanna Laybourn-Parry 255

Permanent Ice Covers of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Lakes, Antarctica:Liquid Water Contents
Christian H. Fritsen, Edward E . Adams, Christopher P. McKay, and John C . Priscu 269

Permanent Ice Covers of the McMurdo Dry Valley Lakes, Antarctica: Bubble Formation and Metamorphism
Edward E. Adams, John C. Priscu, Christian H. Fritsen, Scott R. Smith, and Steven L. Brackman 281

Section 4: Soil Environment

The Soil Environment of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Iain B.C ampbell, Graeme G . C. Claridge, Dav M I. Campbell, and Megan R. Balks 297

Soil Biodiversity and Commnity Structure in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Diana Wall Freckman and Ross A. Virginia 323

Section 5: Summary

Science and Environmental Management in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica
Colin M. Harris 337

The McMurdo Dry Valley Ecosystem: Organization, Controls, and Linkages
Daryl L. Moorhead and John C. Priscu 351

Section 6: CDROM

Digital Geospatial Datasets Pertaining to the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica: The SOLA/AGU CDROM
Jordan Towner Hastings  365