Seasonal fluctuations in microbial activity in Antarctic moss peat

first_imgThe Signy Island terrestrial reference sites epitomize unpolluted maritime Antarctic tundra. The extreme transition from the harsh Antarctic winter to the milder summer facilitates studies of the effects of freeze-thaw cycles on microbial activity in moss peat. Seasonal monitoring of peat oxygen uptake showed a transient spring peak at c. 0oC, attributed to microbial utilization of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). After a more gradual temperature-linked summer increase, autumnal freeze-thaw cycles stimulated a final pre-winter peak. The transient climaxes were associated with blooms of saccharolytic yeasts and microfungi. The bacterial population stabilized after a spring increase but then diversified as DOC became rate-limiting. Effects of pre-monitored spring freeze-thaw cycles on late-winter peat cores were simulated in a Gilson respirometer. In vitro perturbations demonstrated the regulatory effects of DOC availability, water content and temperature on peat respiration and microflora! composition. Comparative respirometry and loss in tensile strength of interred cotton strips showed a difference in decomposer activity beneath a relatively dry Polytrichum-Chorisodontium turf and a wet Cattiergon-Cephalozielta carpet. This was associated with water content and anaerobiosis. Cellulolysis accelerated during the growing season and increased with depth, despite anaerobic conditions. Estimates of annual bryophyte decomposition are presented for use in an Antarctic ecosystem model.last_img read more

Melting of ice shelves and the mass balance of Antarctica

first_imgWe calculate the present ice budget for Antarctica from measurements of accumulation minus iceberg calving, run-off and in situ melting beneath the floating ice shelves. The resulting negative mass balance of 469 Gt year−1 differs substantially from other recent estimates but some components are subject to high temporal variability and budget uncertainties of 20–50%. Annual accumulation from an earlier review is adjusted to include the Antarctic Peninsula for a total of 2144 Gt year−1. An iceberg production rate of 2016 Gt year−1 is obtained from the volume of large icebergs calculated from satellite images since 1978, and from the results of an international iceberg census project. Ice-shelf melting of 544 Gt year−1 is derived from physical and geochemical observations of meltwater outflow, glaciological field studies and modeling of the sub-ice ocean circulation. The highest melt rates occur near ice fronts and deep within sub-ice cavities. Run-off from the ice-sheet surface and from beneath the grounded ice is taken to be 53 Gt year−1. Less than half of the negative mass balance need come from the grounded ice to account for the unattributed 0.45 mm year−1 in the IPCC “best estimate” of the recent global sea-level rise.last_img read more

Larval development in the Antarctic nemertean Parborlasia corrugatus (Heteronemertea: Lineidae)

first_imgEmbryonic and larval development were followed from fertilisation to settlement in the Antarctic heteronemertean Parborlasia corrugatus (McIntosh, 1876). The first cleavage occurred 10 to 15 h after fertilisation, and the second at ≃17 h. Larvae hatched at the gastrula stage, between 170 and 200 h post-fertilisation, and were ≃150 μm in diameter. Early larval stages aggregated in dense groups near the surface of incubation vessels and were positively phototactic. Early pilidium larvae were recognisable 435 h post-fertilisation. They were 155×152 μm in size, and possessed a complete apical tuft of cilia and a full marginal band of locomotory cilia. At this stage, the gust was visible through the body wall, and the mouth was open and was ≃40 μm in diameter. Late pilidia, 222×193 μm in size, were helmet-shaped. They had an apical tuft over 100 μm long, and possessed a lobed marginal band of locomotory cilia. Pilidia were observed aggregating close to the bottom of incubation vessels 1200 to 1350 h (50 to 56 d) after fertilisation, and this was interpreted as settlement behaviour. At this stage, the apical tuft had been lost and they were highly contractile, being capable of compressing their bodies. However, neither developing juveniles within the larval envelope nor hatched juveniles were observed. Pilidia consumed the microalgae Tetraselmis suecica, Thalassiosira pseudonana and Isochrysis galbana. They also fed on particulate organic material < 1 μm in size, as shown by the presence of material in the guts of larvae offered filtered extracts of algal cultures. There was some indication that larvae could use dissolved organic material, since pilidia held in seawater with organic material removed did not survive as long as those in filtered seawater or in filtered water with added amino acids. However, the only larvae to exhibit settlement behaviour in the feeding experiments were those offered Tetraselmis succica and Thalassiosira pseudonana, and these required a longer development time to reach this stage than pilidia in the standard cultures, where a mixed algal diet was offered.last_img read more

Interannual variation in the diet of the Antarctic prion Pachyptila desolata at South Georgia

first_imgThe diet of the Antarctic Prion Pachyptila desolata was examined using food samples regurgitated by adult birds during five breeding seasons at Bird Island, South Georgia. In all years the diet was mainly crustaceans, with a small proportion of myctophid fish and trace amounts of ephalopods. Antarctic krill Euphausia superba was the dominant prey item in three years and was replaced by calanoid copepods, especially Rhincalanus gigas and Calanoides acutus, in two years of low krill abundance. Differences in the prey species taken and observations of foraging behaviour suggest that in years of low krill availability Antarctic Prions forage closer inshore, taking copepods by filtering surface water through their palatal lamellae. By switching to feeding on copepods Antarctic Prions are apparently able to maintain a comparable level of reproductive success, unlike most other krill feeding species which suffer much reduced reproductive performance in years of reduced krill availability.last_img read more

The spring mesozooplankton community at South Georgia: a comparison of shelf and oceanic sites

first_imgMesozooplankton (predominantly 200–2000 μm) were sampled at a shelf and an oceanic station close to South Georgia, South Atlantic, during austral spring (October/November) 1997. Onshelf zooplankton biomass was extremely high at 10–16 g dry mass m−2 (0–150 m), 70% comprising the small neritic clausocalaniid copepod Drepanopus forcipatus. Large calanoid species, principally Calanoides acutus and Rhincalanus gigas, contributed only 8–10%. At the oceanic station, biomass in the sampled water column (0–1000 m) was ∼6.5 g dry mass m−2 and 4–6 g dry mass m−2 in the top 200 m. Here, large calanoids composed 40–50% of the standing stock. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) occurred in low abundances at both stations. Vertical profiles obtained with a Longhurst Hardy Plankton Recorder indicated that populations of C. acutus and R. gigas, which overwinter at depth, had completed their spring ascent and were resident in surface waters. Dry mass, carbon and lipid values were lower than found in summer but were consistent with overwintered populations. Phytoplankton concentrations were considerably higher at the oceanic station (2–3 mg chlorophyll a m−3) and increased over the time on station. In response to this, egg production of both large calanoid species and growth rates of R. gigas approached those measured in summer. Onshelf phytoplankton concentrations were lower (<1 mg m−3), and low egg production rates suggested food limitation. Here phytoplankton rations equivalent to 6% zooplankton body C would have been sufficient to clear primary production whereas at the oceanic station daily carbon fixation was broadly equivalent to zooplankton carbon biomass.last_img read more

Calculation of pitch angle and energy diffusion coefficients with the PADIE code

first_imgWe present a new computer code (PADIE) that calculates fully relativistic quasi-linear pitch angle and energy diffusion coefficients for resonant wave-particle interactions in a magnetized plasma. Unlike previous codes, the full electromagnetic dispersion relation is used so that interactions involving any linear electromagnetic wave mode in a predominantly cold plasma can be addressed for any ratio of the plasma-frequency to the cyclotron frequency ωpe /∣Ωe∣. The code can be applied to problems in astrophysical, magnetospheric, and laboratory plasmas. The code is applied here to the Earth’s radiation belts to calculate electron diffusion by whistler mode chorus, electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC), and Z mode waves. The high-density approximation is remarkably good for electron diffusion by whistler mode chorus for energies E ≥ 100 keV, even for ωpe/∣Ωe∣ ≈ 2 but underestimates diffusion by orders of magnitude at low energies (∼10 keV). When a realistic angular spread of propagating waves is introduced for EMIC waves, electron diffusion at ∼0.5 MeV is only slightly reduced compared with the assumption of field-aligned propagation, but at ∼5 MeV, electron diffusion at pitch angles near 90° is reduced by a factor of 5 and increased by several orders of magnitude at pitch angles 30°–80°. Scattering by EMIC waves should contribute to flattening of the distribution function. The first results for electron diffusion by Z mode waves are presented. They show that unlike the whistler and EMIC waves, energy diffusion exceeds pitch angle diffusion over a broad range of pitch angles less than 45°. The results suggest that Z mode waves could provide a significant contribution to electron acceleration in the radiation belts during storm times.last_img read more

Survey of upper band chorus and ECH waves: implications for the diffuse aurora

first_imgThe origin of the diffuse aurora has been a source of controversy for many years. More recently, the question has taken a new significance in view of the associated changes in atmospheric chemistry which may affect the middle atmosphere. Here, we use CRRES data to assess the importance of upper band chorus and electron cyclotron harmonic (ECH) waves in the production of the diffuse aurora. Both wave modes increase with increasing geomagnetic activity, suggesting they are related to periods of enhanced convection and/or substorm activity. They are confined to the near-equatorial region, which excludes the prenoon sector from the wave survey. During active conditions, intense ECH waves and upper band chorus, with amplitudes exceeding 1 mV m(-1), are observed in the region 4 < L < 7 from 2100 to 0600 MLT approximately 20% and 6% of the time, respectively. This suggests that both wave modes can put electrons on strong diffusion, but only during active conditions and not at all local times. Scattering rates fall below the strong diffusion limit at other times when the wave amplitudes are weaker. Fluxes of low energy electrons (100 eV < E < 30 keV) also increase with increasing geomagnetic activity in approximately the same region of geospace as the waves, suggesting that these electrons are responsible for the generation of the waves. The patterns of the upper band chorus, ECH waves, and low-energy electrons are similar to the global morphology of the diffuse aurora, suggesting that both wave modes play significant roles in the production of the diffuse aurora.last_img read more

Detection of fungal 18S rRNA sequences in conjunction with marine nematode 18S rRNA amplicons

first_imgFree-living nematodes constitute an important component of estuarine and marine benthic ecosystems. Some marine and soil nematodes are known to harbor microbes, including symbiotic bacteria and fungi, in their external cuticle as well as internally. While assessing diversity of marine nematodes from southwest England using molecular approaches, we found evidence of co-amplification of fungal 18S rRNA sequences in conjunction with nematode 18S rRNA sequences. Based on an 18S rRNA PCR-DGGE approach, 3 fungal clone types were detected alongside nematodes from 2 of 4 estuarine and marine sites in southwest England. At the phylogeny level, fungal clone type 1 belongs to Chaetothyriales while the other 2 clone types belong to Hypocreales. The fungal clones were co-amplified with specific marine nematode taxa indicating true ecological association rather than transient environmental contamination. The present study is the first to detect fungal 18S sequences in parallel with marine nematodes and opens up a new avenue of research for investigating ecological interactions between nematodes and fungi in the marine environment.last_img read more

Is there a distinct continental slope fauna in the Antarctic?

first_imgThe Antarctic continental slope spans the depths from the shelf break (usually between 500 and 1000 m) to not, vert, similar3000 m, is very steep, overlain by ‘warm’ (2–2.5 °C) Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW), and life there is poorly studied. This study investigates whether life on Antarctica’s continental slope is essentially an extension of the shelf or the abyssal fauna, a transition zone between these or clearly distinct in its own right. Using data from several cruises to the Weddell Sea and Scotia Sea, including the ANDEEP (ANtarctic benthic DEEP-sea biodiversity, colonisation history and recent community patterns) I–III, BIOPEARL (BIOdiversity, Phylogeny, Evolution and Adaptive Radiation of Life in Antarctica) 1 and EASIZ (Ecology of the Antarctic Sea Ice Zone) II cruises as well as current databases (SOMBASE, SCAR-MarBIN), four different taxa were selected (i.e. cheilostome bryozoans, isopod and ostracod crustaceans and echinoid echinoderms) and two areas, the Weddell Sea and the Scotia Sea, to examine faunal composition, richness and affinities. The answer has important ramifications to the link between physical oceanography and ecology, and the potential of the slope to act as a refuge and resupply zone to the shelf during glaciations. Benthic samples were collected using Agassiz trawl, epibenthic sledge and Rauschert sled. By bathymetric definition, these data suggest that despite eurybathy in some of the groups examined and apparent similarity of physical conditions in the Antarctic, the shelf, slope and abyssal faunas were clearly separated in the Weddell Sea. However, no such separation of faunas was apparent in the Scotia Sea (except in echinoids). Using a geomorphological definition of the slope, shelf-slope-abyss similarity only changed significantly in the bryozoans. Our results did not support the presence of a homogenous and unique Antarctic slope fauna despite a high number of species being restricted to the slope. However, it remains the case that there may be a unique Antarctic slope fauna, but the paucity of our samples could not demonstrate this in the Scotia Sea. It is very likely that various ecological and evolutionary factors (such as topography, water-mass and sediment characteristics, input of particulate organic carbon (POC) and glaciological history) drive slope distinctness. Isopods showed greatest species richness at slope depths, whereas bryozoans and ostracods were more speciose at shelf depths; however, significance varied across Weddell Sea and Scotia Sea and depending on bathymetric vs. geomorphological definitions. Whilst the slope may harbour some source populations for localised shelf recolonisation, the absence of many shelf species, genera and even families (in a poorly dispersing taxon) from the continental slope indicate that it was not a universal refuge for Antarctic shelf fauna.last_img read more

The discovery of new deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities in the Southern Ocean and implications for biogeography

first_imgSince the first discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents along the Galápagos Rift in 1977, numerous vent sites and endemic faunal assemblages have been found along mid-ocean ridges and back-arc basins at low to mid latitudes. These discoveries have suggested the existence of separate biogeographic provinces in the Atlantic and the North West Pacific, the existence of a province including the South West Pacific and Indian Ocean, and a separation of the North East Pacific, North East Pacific Rise, and South East Pacific Rise. The Southern Ocean is known to be a region of high deep-sea species diversity and centre of origin for the global deep-sea fauna. It has also been proposed as a gateway connecting hydrothermal vents in different oceans but is little explored because of extreme conditions. Since 2009 we have explored two segments of the East Scotia Ridge (ESR) in the Southern Ocean using a remotely operated vehicle. In each segment we located deep-sea hydrothermal vents hosting high-temperature black smokers up to 382.8°C and diffuse venting. The chemosynthetic ecosystems hosted by these vents are dominated by a new yeti crab (Kiwa n. sp.), stalked barnacles, limpets, peltospiroid gastropods, anemones, and a predatory sea star. Taxa abundant in vent ecosystems in other oceans, including polychaete worms (Siboglinidae), bathymodiolid mussels, and alvinocaridid shrimps, are absent from the ESR vents. These groups, except the Siboglinidae, possess planktotrophic larvae, rare in Antarctic marine invertebrates, suggesting that the environmental conditions of the Southern Ocean may act as a dispersal filter for vent taxa. Evidence from the distinctive fauna, the unique community structure, and multivariate analyses suggest that the Antarctic vent ecosystems represent a new vent biogeographic province. However, multivariate analyses of species present at the ESR and at other deep-sea hydrothermal vents globally indicate that vent biogeography is more complex than previously recognised.last_img read more