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November 16 to November 19

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A fantastic walk involving training from Bruce in two-person glacial traverse to a Nunatak, Manhaul rocks (McCleod Glacier).

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Towards the summit of Manhaul Rocks there are lichen covered rocks. Strong northerly winds had brought in brash ice towards the coast. Elsewhere are colourful lichen and algal assemblages. Bird droppings nearby indicate evidence of nutrient enrichment.

 

The following day I accompanied Bruce, Jessica and Dirk to NW Signy (via Jane Col) with an overnight stay at Foca, Northpoint and returning via Robin Peak (261 m). I had hoped to sample lichens from Andreaea plateau for a Norwegian colleague but snow lay deep on the ground. Bruce thought it would be at least January before it melted.

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Bruce (with Jessica and Dirk in the picture) aired the sleeping bags on the hut roof. Aided by the warmth of cooking (with Primus stoves) and from the light of two Tilley lamps, the hut was soon very cozy. The down RAB sleeping bags were excellent. None of us were cold.

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Jessica sampled the moss banks of Chrisodontium aciphyllum, at Skua Terrace . Studies indicate that the moss banks – a hummocky vegetation type - can be up to 4 metres deep and are potential indicators of climate change over the past 2000 years! The close-up image shows Chrisodontium and macrolichens (Neuropogon and Cladonia species).

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Bruce, Jessica and Dirk by lichen covered rocks, North Point. The following images are of some of the wildlife we encountered.

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Nesting Gentoo Penguin by lichen covered rock. North Point.

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Indignant sub-antarctic skua on lichen-covered rocks, North Point. The taxonomic status of Antarctic skuas requires clarification since hybrids between ‘species’ exist too!

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Southern Petrel on nest by lichen covered rocks, North Point.

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Lichen-covered rock, William’s Haven (not named after me), North Point.

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Close-up of lichens on rock. William’s Haven, Northpoint.

 

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Jessica monitoring Gentoo penguins. Above William’s Haven, Northpoint. Excess levels of nutrients, for example from guano, are harmful for lichens, mosses and other organisms.

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Matt and Bruce were excellent ‘husky dogs’ for hauling a rescue sledge via the steep Stonechute to Khyber Pass, but it was Jessica and Dirk who were taking the strain at this point as we were going downhill.

 

William P

William P

Member since: Dec 16, 2009

William Purvis, a lichenologist from the Botany Department, is in the Antarctic on the island of Signy conducting research into lichen biodiversity under global climate change. Follow his blog, updated as and when he can from this remote area.

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