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Despite all the extra ground time we got on Saturday, we didn’t get to water the BEE plots as we had planned. So, Ed and Breana flew back out to the south side of Lake Bonney with another 80 lbs of water to finish the job. The weather was nice, which makes working easier. We finished quickly and were able to be picked up early.
The unusual lightening bolt shaped mark on the mountain is an example of one of the many geological features that intrigue scientists like Bruce Marsh and his research group (called the Marsh-ians!) who study magma dynamics here in Antarctica. This formation is visible from our worm plots at Lake Bonney.
While we were at Bonney, Ed took a photo of the soil near the helicopter pad. The soil is sandy, and covered with rocks and pebbles. The rock can be really pretty, ranging in color from yellow to pink to green to black. In moist, productive areas, algae grows on the surface of the soil, between the rocks. Sometimes we collect this microalgae really carefully with a spoon and bring it back to the lab to see how much chlorophyll a is contained in the sample. Chlorophyll a is produced by photosynthetic organisms, and is a good measure of production in an environment where we don’t have vascular plants.
The soil here tends to be cold and dry, which is not a great habitat for most soil animals. We find more animals in areas near streams and lakes, where the soil is moist and there is moss or algae present. However, the most ubiquitous nematode in the Dry Valleys, Scottnema lindsayae, prefers drier, saltier soils than the other organisms living here, and it is found throughout the region. If the climate warms and the soils become warmer and wetter, this could be bad for poor Scottnema, but good for many of the other soil animals.