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Microbial biodiversity

2 Posts tagged with the biodiversity tag

Our team went on a one-month field expedition to South Georgia at the beginning of this year, funded by the National Geographic Society, to collect water, sediment, ice and snow samples from glaciers around South Georgia.


South Georgia is located south of the Antarctic Convergence and its mountainous landscapes are dominated by glaciers. More than 150 glaciers can be found on South Georgia, and until recently glaciers have been seen as abiotic features, but now it is known that they contain diverse ecosystems with rich communities of bacteria, cyanobacteria, microbial eukaryotes, Archaea, fungi and microfauna even sometimes insects.


South Georgia is located in a zone that will likely be affected by climatic change, which could lead to a further decline of glacial ecosystems. In our project we will therefore do a detailed documentation of the biology and biodiversity found on glaciers on South Georgia using a combination of environmental (eDNA), culture isolation and sequencing. The project is a collaboration between Dr Arwyn Edwards and Tris Irvine-Fynn (Abyerystwyth University), Dr David Pearce (Northumbria University) and me based at the Natural History Museum.


Buxton Glacier.


IMG_1467.jpg    Nordenskjöld Glacier.



Calving glacier front.


A field team with members from the Natural History Museum and University of Sheffield will spend five weeks in January to February 2013 at King Edward Point research station in Cumberland Bay on South Georgia, Southern Atlantic Ocean. The project is funded through a Research Grant by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.


The aims of the field trip are to collect samples from soils and streams around Cumberland Bay such as Greene and Barff Peninsula to perform a comprehensive characterization of the bacterial and microbial eukaryotic diversity using next generation sequencing. The sample collection will enable to map bacteria and microbial eukaryotic community richness, composition and geographic distribution. Nutrients analysis for especially nitrogen and iron will also be performed to evaluate the relationship between microbial diversity and nutrients present in soils and streams.


This is important because bacteria and microbial eukaryotes are a major component of soils, and are essential for maintaining terrestrial ecosystems. Microbes are also important for processing of organic biomass and minerals in the soils, and nutrients generated in the soils can be transported into coastal waters through terrestrial runoff, and could subsequently potentially provide a source of nutrients for phytoplankton and fish in the coastal waters of South Georgia.


South Georgia is an island in the southern Atlantic Ocean and located south of the Antarctic Convergence, which is a climatic boundary between air and water masses of the Antarctic and subantarctic regions. South Georgia is around 170 long and between 2 to 40 km wid.


map1.jpgSouth Georgia in Southern Atlantic Ocean


map2.jpgSouth Georgia and Cumberland Bay (based on BAS map of South Georiga)



The landscapes of South Georiga characterized by steep barren mountainswith Mount Paget being up to 2.934 m high, numerous large glaciers and snowfields. The vegetation is dominated by mosses, lichen, grasses and a several flowering plant species . Ponds and streams are often rich in algae and mosses (


IMG_9101.jpgCumberland Bay



By the way, here are links to two webcams on South Georgia next the Kind Edward Point station:


South Georgia Webcam1



South Georgia Webcam2