Thursday, November 12, 2009, 4:30PM - 5:30PM
Full title: "Microbial communities in newly deglaciated soils of the Middle Fork Toklat Glacier, Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska."
The forefront of the Middle Fork Toklat Glacier sits at about 1300 meters on the northern slope of the Alaska Range which is about 60°N. It also sits in the rain shadow of Mt. McKinley and surrounding peaks creating conditions similar to the high peaks of Argentina, Peru, Colorado, and the Himalayas. In addition, Denali National Park and Preserve sits on the cusp of the Boreal Forest ecosystem to the south and the Northern Slope Tundra ecosystem to the north and is believed to be highly susceptible the effects of climate change. The Middle Fork Toklat Glacier is what you would call a dirty glacier; beginning about 1 km from the elevation line of accumulation, the lateral and medial moraines become seasonally exposed from snow pack. Like most glaciers around the world, the Middle Fork Toklat is retreating at several meters per year. But unlike most other glaciers, what we find is an exposed rocky moraine left behind about 100 years ago from the last glacial advance in Alaska that begins on the ice of the glacier and extends three kilometers down the valley. Here we investigate microbial activity over two seasons. Early analyses indicate microbial activity is occurring in the substrate on the glacier, there is a shift in microbial community along the chronosequence, there is a similarity between communities here and around the world, and there is a correlation between mineralogy and microbial activity.