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This week at Davis: 28 February 2014

Monitoring Ecosystem Stability in Model Marine-Derived Antarctic Lake Systems

This winter there is a lot happening over in the science building. We (Sarah Payne and Alyce Hancock) are two wintering scientists at Davis Station this season working on a project for Rick Cavicchioli of UNSW. The project, “Monitoring Ecosystem Stability in Model Marine-Derived Antarctic Lake Systems”, aims to determine how microbial communities change throughout a complete annual cycle in three climate-sensitive Antarctica lakes (Ace, Organic and Deep Lakes) as well as a near-shore marine location. The knowledge gained from these studies will form the underpinnings for evaluating the effects of climate change on sensitive ecosystems in Antarctica. In addition to Ace, Organic and Deep Lakes, which are model systems that are being intensively studied, we are also undertaking small scale sampling of numerous (hundreds) other lakes, many of which have not been studied before.

Our role for this project is to complete all the field sampling through summer (2013-14) and winter (2014). This requires us to spend considerable periods of time in the field collecting and filtering lake water onto a large filter format system. Due to the loss of helicopter support, after December we have focused on collecting extra lake samples from a variety of lakes around the Vestfold Hills by foot. This included two one-week long trips based at Brookes and Platcha huts collecting samples from the lakes in these areas. In between sampling trips we spend our time unpacking and cleaning equipment from our field trips, preparing for upcoming trips and doing various forms of microscopy to gain abundance measures of the microbes within the lakes.

Here are some photos of our work.

Sarah Payne and Alyce Hancock

aerial photo of a frozen lake
Ace Lake
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
Aerial photo of frozen lake
Organic Lake
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
2 expeditioners sampling water at waters edge, 1 expeditioner looking on
David, Alyce and Sarah sampling at Deep Lake
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
tent and cage pallets in the ice near the lake, helicopter hovering above
Setting up our sampling site at Ace Lake
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
silver filtering rack inside a tent
Format Filtering Rack System in Mobile Work Shelter
(Photo: Sarah Payne)
Adelie penguins walking past science tent
Penguin Highway at Organic Lake.
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
Close up of 3 expeditioners with science camp site in the background
Alyce, Sarah and Rick overlooking Ace Lake sampling site
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
expeditioners at melted lake sampling water
Sampling Oval Lake January 2014
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
Two expeditioners sitting on a boulder alongside a lake sampling
Alyce and Sarah sampling one of the lakes
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
Two expeditioners in yellow windproof clothing walking into the wind and snow
Alyce and Sarah hiking between Platcha and Brookes Huts
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
head and shoulder photo of 3 females with the hut in the background
Billy, Alyce and Sarah at Brookes Hut
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
) florescent green dots and squiggles on a slide
View down the microscope on a slide used for counting microbial abundances
(Photo: Sarah Payne)
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