McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER)  
Dry Valleys Banner (photo: Chris Gardner)  
  McMurdo LTER Areas of Research

Molecular Biodiversity

The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), Antarctica experience extreme environmental conditions including low temperatures, minimal available water, and intense ultraviolet radiation inputs. As a consequence, this is a microbially dominated ecosystem; higher plants and animals are absent, and a limited diversity of protozoans (Bamforth et al. 2005, Fell et al. 2006) and invertebrates are endemic to the region (Freckman and Virginia 1997, Freckman and Virginia 1998, Treonis et al. 1999). In contrast to the limited eukaryotic diversity, recent lines of evidence support the existence of an indigenous and diverse microbial community in MDV streams, lakes, soils, and glaciers. However, exhaustive ecosystem level comparisons of microbial diversity and function in the MDV have yet to be performed. Understanding the controls on the distribution of MDV microbial communities is a fundamental step toward describing this ecosystems determining commuity functional capabilities, and predicting responses to environmental change. In MCMIV, we are using a molecular biology approach to identify the biodiversity and function of MDV communities in diverse habitats. In addition, we are determining how manipulations of water, nutrients, and temperature affect biodiversity and function in situ.

More Information

  • Primary Investigators

    Cristina Takacs-Vesbach
    University of New Mexico
    Molecular Biodiversity
    (Research Group Home Page)

    Molecular Biodiversity Lab
    Department of Biology
    University of New Mexico
    MSC03 2020 1UNM
    Albuquerque, NM 87108

    John Priscu
    Montana State University
    Microbial Ecology
    (Research Group Home Page)

    Department of Biology
    309 Lewis Hall
    Montana State University
    Bozeman, MT 59717

    Diane McKnight
    University of Colorado
    (Research Group Home Page)

    1560 30th Street
    Campus Box 450
    Boulder, CO 80309-0450

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Last updated Winter 2012
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