Advertisement

Polar Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 897–907 | Cite as

Experimentally increased snow accumulation alters soil moisture and animal community structure in a polar desert

  • Edward AyresEmail author
  • Johnson N. Nkem
  • Diana H. Wall
  • Byron J. Adams
  • J. E. Barrett
  • Breana L. Simmons
  • Ross A. Virginia
  • Andrew G. Fountain
Original Paper

Abstract

Snow accumulation can influence soil properties in arctic and alpine tundra, boreal and temperate forests, and temperate grasslands. However, snow may be even more influential in arid ecosystems, which by definition are water limited, such as the hyper-arid polar desert of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Moreover, snow accumulation may be altered by climate change in the future. In order to investigate the impact of changes in snow accumulation on soils in the McMurdo Dry Valleys we experimentally manipulated the quantity of snow at two locations and monitored soil properties over 5 years in relation to a snow depth gradient created by snow fences. We predicted that increased snow depth would be associated with increased soil moisture and a shift in soil animal community structure. While we did not observe changes in soil biochemistry or community structure along the snow depth gradient at either site, increased snow accumulation caused by the snow fence altered soil properties across the entire length of the transects at one site (Fryxell), which collected substantially more snow than the other site. At Fryxell, the presence of the snow fence increased gravimetric soil moisture from 1 to 5–9%. This was associated with a decline in abundance of the dominant animal, Scottnema lindsayae, a nematode typically found in dry soil, and an increase in Eudorylaimus sp. a nematode associated with moist soil. We also observed changes in soil pH, salinity, and concentrations of inorganic nitrogen and chlorophyll a over the course of the experiment, but it was difficult to determine if these were caused by snow accumulation or simply represented temporal variation related to other factors.

Keywords

Snow fence Soil biogeochemistry Soil fauna Precipitation change Global change Nematodes 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Snow depth and density measurements were performed by Thomas Nylen and Hassan Basagic. Steve Blecker, Holley Zadeh, Claire Ojima, Andy Parsons, Dorota Porazinska, and Emma Broos assisted with soil sample collection and processing. This study was supported by National Science Foundation grants OPP 9810219 and OPP 0096250 as part of the McMurdo Dry Valley LTER.

References

  1. Adams BJ, Bardgett RD, Ayres E, Wall DH, Aislabie J, Bamforth S, Bargagli R, Cary C, Cavacini P, Connell L, Convey P, Fell JW, Frati F, Hogg ID, Newsham KK, O’Donnell A, Russell N, Seppelt RD, Stevens MI (2006) Diversity and distribution of Victoria Land biota. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3003–3018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alon A, Steinberger Y (1999) Response of the soil microbial biomass and nematode population to a wetting event in nitrogen-amended Negev desert plots. Biol Fertil Soils 30:147–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrassy I (1998) Nematodes in the sixth continent. J Nematode Morphol Syst 1:107–186Google Scholar
  4. Andrassy I (2008) Eudorylaimus species (Nematoda: Dorylaimida) of continental Antarctica. J Nematode Morphol Syst 11:49–66Google Scholar
  5. Ayres E, Wall DH, Adams BJ, Barrett JE, Virginia RA (2007) Unique similarity of faunal communities across aquatic-terrestrial interfaces in a polar desert ecosystem. Ecosystems 10:523–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bakonyi G, Nagy P (2000) Temperature- and moisture-induced changes in the structure of the nematode fauna of a semiarid grassland—patterns and mechanisms. Glob Chang Biol 6:697–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bakonyi G, Nagy P, Kovacs-Lang E, Kovacs E, Barabas S, Repasi V, Seres A (2007) Soil nematode community structure as affected by temperature and moisture in a temperate semiarid shrubland. Appl Soil Ecol 37:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barnett TP, Adam JC, Lettenmaier DP (2005) Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature 438:303–309CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Barrett JE, Virginia RA, Wall DH (2002) Trends in resin and KCl-extractable soil nitrogen across landscape gradients in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Ecosystems 5:289–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barrett JE, Virginia RA, Wall DH, Parsons AN, Powers LE, Burkins MB (2004) Variation in biogeochemistry and soil biodiversity across spatial scales in a polar desert ecosystem. Ecology 85:3105–3118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barrett JE, Virginia RA, Lyons WB, McKnight DM, Priscu JC, Doran PT, Fountain AG, Wall DH, Moorhead DL (2007) Biogeochemical stoichiometry of Antarctic Dry Valley ecosystems. J Geophys Res Biogeosci 112:G01010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Barrett JE, Virginia RA, Wall DH, Adams BJ (2008a) Decline in a dominant invertebrate species contributes to altered carbon cycling in a low-diversity soil ecosystem. Glob Chang Biol 14:1–11Google Scholar
  13. Barrett JE, Virginia RA, Wall DH, Doran PT, Fountain AG, Welch KA, Lyons WB (2008b) Persistent effects of a discrete warming event on a polar desert ecosystem. Glob Chang Biol 14:2249–2261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buckeridge KM, Grogan P (2008) Deepened snow alters soil microbial nutrient limitations in arctic birch hummock tundra. Appl Soil Ecol 39:210–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Campbell IB (2003) Soil characteristics at a long-term ecological research site in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Aust J Soil Res 41:351–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Campbell IB, Claridge GGC (1987) Antarctica: soils, weathering processes and environment. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  17. Cannone N, Wagner D, Hubberten HW, Guglielmin M (2008) Biotic and abiotic factors influencing soil properties across a latitudinal gradient in Victoria Land, Antarctica. Geoderma 144:50–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chapman WL, Walsh JE (2007) A synthesis of Antarctic temperatures. J Clim 20:4096–4117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chinn TH (1993) Physical hydrology of the dry valley lakes. In: Green WJ, Friedmann EI (eds) Physical and biogeochemical processes in Antarctic lakes. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 1–51Google Scholar
  20. Coiro MI, Sasanelli N, Serino M (1995) Fecundity and longevity of individual Xiphinema ifacolum (Nematoda, Dorylaimidae) on tomato. Nematologica 41:191–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Connell L, Redman R, Craig S, Rodriguez R (2006) Distribution and abundance of fungi in the soils of Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3083–3094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Doran PT, McKay CP, Clow GD, Dana GL, Fountain AG, Nylen T, Lyons WB (2002a) Valley floor climate observations from the McMurdo dry valleys, Antarctica, 1986–2000. J Geophys Res Atmos 107:4772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Doran PT, Priscu JC, Lyons WB, Walsh JE, Fountain AG, McKnight DM, Moorhead DL, Virginia RA, Wall DH, Clow GD, Fritsen CH, McKay CP, Parsons AN (2002b) Antarctic climate cooling and terrestrial ecosystem response. Nature 415:517–520CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Elberling B, Gregorich EG, Hopkins DW, Sparrow AD, Novis P, Greenfield LG (2006) Distribution and dynamics of soil organic matter in an Antarctic dry valley. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3095–3106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fell JW, Scorzetti G, Connell L, Craig S (2006) Biodiversity of micro-eukaryotes in Antarctic Dry Valley soils with <5% soil moisture. Soil Biol Biochem 38:3107–3119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Foreman CM, Wolf CF, Priscu JC (2004) Impact of episodic warming events on the physical, chemical and biological relationships of lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Aquat Geochem 10:239–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fountain AG, Lyons WB, Burkins MB, Dana GL, Doran PT, Lewis KJ, McKnight DM, Moorhead DL, Parsons AN, Priscu JC, Wall DH, Wharton RA, Virginia RA (1999) Physical controls on the Taylor Valley ecosystem, Antarctica. Bioscience 49:961–971CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fountain AG, Nylen TH, Monaghan A, Basagic HJ, Bromwich D (2009) Snow in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Int J Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.1933
  29. Freckman DW, Virginia RA (1993) Extraction of nematodes from Dry Valley Antarctic soils. Polar Biol 13:483–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Freckman DW, Virginia RA (1997) Low-diversity Antarctic soil nematode communities: distribution and response to disturbance. Ecology 78:363–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Freckman DW, Virginia RA (1998) Soil biodiversity and community structure in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. In: Priscu JC (ed) Ecosystem dynamics in a polar desert: the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 323–335Google Scholar
  32. Freckman DW, Whitford WG, Steinberger Y (1987) Effect of irrigation on nematode population-dynamics and activity in desert soils. Biol Fertil Soils 3:3–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gooseff MN, Barrett JE, Doran PT, Fountain AG, Lyons WB, Parsons AN, Porazinska DL, Virginia RA, Wall DH (2003) Snow-patch influence on soil biogeochemical processes and invertebrate distribution in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Arct Antarc Alp Res 35:91–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grippa M, Kergoat L, Le Toan T, Mognard NM, Delbart N, L’Hermitte J, Vicente-Serrano SM (2005) The impact of snow depth and snowmelt on the vegetation variability over central Siberia. Geophys Res Lett 32:L21412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Groffman PM, Driscoll CT, Fahey TJ, Hardy JP, Fitzhugh RD, Tierney GL (2001) Effects of mild winter freezing on soil nitrogen and carbon dynamics in a northern hardwood forest. Biogeochemistry 56:191–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Groffman PM, Hardy JP, Driscoll CT, Fahey TJ (2006) Snow depth, soil freezing, and fluxes of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane in a northern hardwood forest. Glob Chang Biol 12:1748–1760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. IPCC (2007) Fourth assessment report: climate change 2007. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  38. Kaste O, Austnes K, Vestgarden LS, Wright RF (2008) Manipulation of snow in small headwater catchments at Storgama, Norway: effects on leaching of inorganic nitrogen. Ambio 37:29–37CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Kennedy AD (1993) Water as a limiting factor in the Antarctic terrestrial environment—a biogeographical synthesis. Arct Alp Res 25:308–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moorhead DL, Barrett JE, Virginia RA, Wall DH, Porazinska D (2003) Organic matter and soil biota of upland wetlands in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Polar Biol 26:567–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mote PW, Hamlet AF, Clark MP, Lettenmaier DP (2005) Declining mountain snowpack in western north America. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 86:39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nylen TH, Fountain AG, Doran PT (2004) Climatology of katabatic winds in the McMurdo dry valleys, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. J Geophys Res Atmos 109:D03114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Overhoff A, Freckman DW, Virginia RA (1993) Life cycle of the microbivorous Antarctic Dry Valley nematode Scottnema lindsayae (Timm 1971). Polar Biol 13:151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Poage MA, Barrettt JE, Virginia RA, Wall DH (2008) The influence of soil geochemistry on nematode distribution, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Arct Antarc Alp Res 40:119–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Porazinska DL, Wall DH, Virginia RA (2002) Population age structure of nematodes in the Antarctic Dry Valleys: perspectives on time, space, and habitat suitability. Arct Antarc Alp Res 34:159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Powers LE, Freckman DW, Virginia RA (1995) Spatial distribution of nematodes in polar desert soils of Antarctica. Polar Biol 15:325–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Powers LE, Ho MC, Freckman DW, Virginia RA (1998) Distribution, community structure, and microhabitats of soil invertebrates along an elevational gradient in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Arct Alp Res 30:133–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schimel JP, Bilbrough C, Welker JA (2004) Increased snow depth affects microbial activity and nitrogen mineralization in two Arctic tundra communities. Soil Biol Biochem 36:217–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schwarz AMJ, Green TGA, Seppelt RD (1992) Terrestrial vegetation at Canada Glacier, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Polar Biol 12:397–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Simmons BL, Wall DH, Adams BJ, Ayres E, Barrett JE, Virginia RA (2009) Long-term experimental warming reduces soil nematode populations in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Soil Biol Biochem 41:2052–2060CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stevens MI, Hogg ID (2002) Expanded distributional records of Collembola and Acari in southern Victoria land, Antarctica. Pedobiologia 46:485–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Treonis AM, Wall DH, Virginia RA (1999) Invertebrate biodiversity in Antarctic dry valley soils and sediments. Ecosystems 2:482–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Treonis AM, Wall DH, Virginia RA (2000) The use of anhydrobiosis by soil nematodes in the Antarctic Dry Valleys. Funct Ecol 14:460–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ugolini FC, Bockheim JG (2008) Antarctic soils and soil formation in a changing environment: a review. Geoderma 144:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Walker MD, Walker DA, Welker JM, Arft AM, Bardsley T, Brooks PD, Fahnestock JT, Jones MH, Losleben M, Parsons AN, Seastedt TR, Turner PL (1999) Long-term experimental manipulation of winter snow regime and summer temperature in arctic and alpine tundra. Hydrol Process 13:2315–2330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wall DH (2007) Global change tipping points: above- and below-ground biotic interactions in a low diversity ecosystem. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 362:2291–2306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wipf S, Rixen C, Mulder CPH (2006) Advanced snowmelt causes shift towards positive neighbour interactions in a subarctic tundra community. Glob Chang Biol 12:1496–1506CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Ayres
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Johnson N. Nkem
    • 1
    • 4
  • Diana H. Wall
    • 1
    • 5
  • Byron J. Adams
    • 6
  • J. E. Barrett
    • 7
  • Breana L. Simmons
    • 1
    • 8
  • Ross A. Virginia
    • 9
  • Andrew G. Fountain
    • 10
  1. 1.Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.National Ecological Observatory NetworkBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Center for International Forestry ResearchJakartaIndonesia
  5. 5.Department of BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  6. 6.Department of Biology and Evolutionary Ecology LaboratoriesBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  7. 7.Department of Biological SciencesVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  8. 8.Division of Natural Sciences and MathematicsEast Georgia CollegeSwainsboroUSA
  9. 9.Environmental Studies ProgramDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  10. 10.Department of GeologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

Personalised recommendations