Ross, Diana, Jeb, Byron and Breana flew to the west lobe of Lake Bonney to set up the second set of plots for the Stoichiometry Experiment. Our Stoichiometry Experiment (SE) sounds very sophisticated and complicated, but really it’s very simple. We are adding combinations of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) to the soil to see how it affects soil processes. Remember that in science you need to replicate your experiment (to prove that it works or doesn’t work more than one time in one place), and also have a control with which to compare your results. The design we came up with involves 56 plots in two lake basins; that’s a total of 112 plots! We will apply our treatements and take soil samples once every year. This year, we took our soil samples first, so that we know what the soil was like before we started our experiment.

This is a view of the Taylor Glacier, adjacent to the west lobe of Lake Bonney.
Taylor Glacier

Diana and Ross would like to remind you that while it may look sunny and mild at Lake Bonney, it is most definitely NOT warm. We always do field work in our ECW gear to prevent hypothermia.
Antarctica is cold

Spider-Man helps to line up the plots. No wait, that’s Jeb.
Setting up the Stoich Plots

Ross and Byron sample the soil for nematodes while Jeb supervises.
Big Science

We were at Bonney setting up the SE with Ed and Dorota, who were sampling the last set of BEE plots. We are very careful when working in the Dry Valleys. We don’t want to disturb the soil more than we have to, so we try to use established paths for walking, and if there isn’t a path, we walk on rocks, not on the soil. Also, we try to keep our experiments modest in size to minimize the impact on the soil organisms.

This picture shows the scale of our experiments in the landscape. Ed (standing) and Dorota (sleeping) are in red parkas.
BEE plots at Lake Bonney