Project Information
Collaborative Research: The Role of Glacial History on the Structure and Functioning of Ecological Communities in the Shackleton Glacier Region of the Transantarctic Mountains
Start Date:
End Date:
The project will characterize the functional, taxonomic, biotic and abiotic drivers of soil ecosystems in the Trans Antarctic Mountains (one of the most remote and harsh terrestrial landscapes on the planet). The work will utilize new high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing technologies to identify members of the microbial communities and determine if the microbial community structures are independent of local environmental heterogeneities. In addition the project will determine if microbial diversity and function are correlated with time since the last glacial maximum (LGM). The expected results will greatly contribute to our knowledge regarding rates of microbial succession and help define the some of the limits to life and life-maintaining processes on Earth.

The project will analyze genomes and RNA derived from these genomes to describe the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning from soils above and below LGM elevations and to correlate these with the environmental drivers associated with their development during the last ~18,000 years. The team will identify the taxonomic diversity and the functional genetic composition within a broad suite of soil biota and examine their patterns of assembly and distribution within the framework of their geological legacies. The project will mentor participants from undergraduate students to postdoctoral researchers and prepare them to effectively engage in research to meet their career aspirations. The project will contribute to ongoing public education efforts through relationships with K-12 teachers and administrators- to include University-Public School partnerships. Less formal activities include public lecture series and weblogs aimed at providing information on Antarctic polar desert ecosystems to the general public. Targeted classrooms near each PI's institution will participate in online, real-time discussions about current topics in Antarctic ecosystems research.
Person Role
Adams, Byron Investigator and contact
Fierer, Noah Co-Investigator
Wall, Diana Co-Investigator
Diaz, Melisa A. Co-Investigator
Gardner, Christopher B. Co-Investigator
Lyons, W. Berry Co-Investigator
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 1341736
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 1341736
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Deployment Type
Shackleton Camp field camp
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
1 (processed data)
  1. Collins, G. E., Hogg, I. D., Convey, P., Sancho, L. G., Cowan, D. A., Lyons, W. B., … Green, T. G. A. (2020). Genetic diversity of soil invertebrates corroborates timing estimates for past collapses of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 202007925. (doi:10.1073/pnas.2007925117)
  2. Diaz, M. A., Gardner, C. B., Welch, S. A., Andrew Jackson, W., Wall, D. H., Hogg, I. D., Fierer, N. and Berry Lyons, W.: Geochemical zones and environmental gradients for soils from the Central Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica, Biogeosciences Discuss., 1–29, 2020. (doi:10.5194/bg-2020-316)
  3. Diaz, M. A., Li, J., Michalski, G., Darrah, T. H., Adams, B. J., Wall, D. H., Hogg, I. D., Fierer, N., Welch, S. A., Gardner, C. B. and Lyons, W. B.: Stable isotopes of nitrate, sulfate, and carbonate in soils from the Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica: A record of atmospheric deposition and chemical weathering, Front. Earth Sci., 8(341), 2020. (doi:10.3389/feart.2020.00341)
  4. Diaz, M. A., Corbett, L. B., Bierman, P. R., Adams, B. J., Wall, D. H., Hogg, I. D., Fierer, N. and Lyons, W. B.: Relative terrestrial exposure ages inferred from meteoric 10Be and NO3- concentrations in soils along the Shackleton Glacier, Antarctica, Earth Surf. Dyn., in review, 2020 (doi:10.5194/esurf-2020-50)
  5. Diaz, M.A., C.B. Gardner, S.A. Welch, W.A. Jackson, B.J. Adams, D.H. Wall, I.D. Hogg, N. Fierer, and W.B. Lyons. 2021. Geochemical zones and environmental gradients for soils from the central Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica. Biogeosciences 18:1629-1644. (doi:10.5194/bg-18-1629-2021)
  6. Dragone, N.B., M.A. Diaz, I. Hogg, W.B. Lyons, W.A. Jackson, D.H. Wall, B.J. Adams, and N. Fierer. 2020. Exploring the boundaries of microbial habitability in soil. bioRxiv 2020.2008.2003.234583. (doi:10.1101/2020.08.03.234583)
  7. Diaz, M. A., Corbett, L. B., Bierman, P. R., Adams, B. J., Wall, D. H., Hogg, I. D., … Lyons, W. B. (2021). Relationship between meteoric <sup>10</sup>Be and NO<sub>3</sub><sup>−</sup> concentrations in soils along Shackleton Glacier, Antarctica. Earth Surface Dynamics, 9(5), 1363–1380. (doi:10.5194/esurf-9-1363-2021)
  8. Franco, A. L. C., Adams, B. J., Diaz, M. A., Lemoine, N. P., Dragone, N. B., Fierer, N., … Wall, D. H. (2021). Response of Antarctic soil fauna to climate‐driven changes since the Last Glacial Maximum. Global Change Biology. (doi:10.1111/gcb.15940)
  9. Dragone, N. B., Henley, J. B., Holland-Moritz, H., Diaz, M., Hogg, I. D., Lyons, W. B., … Fierer, N. (2022). Elevational Constraints on the Composition and Genomic Attributes of Microbial Communities in Antarctic Soils. mSystems. (doi:10.1128/msystems.01330-21)
  10. George, S. F., N. Fierer, J. S. Levy, and B. J. Adams. 2021. Antarctic Water Tracks: Microbial Community Responses to Variation in Soil Moisture, pH, and Salinity. Frontiers in Microbiology 12. (doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.616730)
  11. Lemoine, N. P., Adams, B. J., Diaz, M., Dragone, N. B., Franco, A. L. C., Fierer, N., Lyons, W. B., Hogg, I. D., & Wall, D. H. (2023). Strong Dispersal Limitation of Microbial Communities at Shackleton Glacier, Antarctica. MSystems. (doi:10.1128/msystems.01254-22)
Platforms and Instruments

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