One of the great things about working on such a large, collaborative LTER is that sometimes we get a chance to do something we wouldn’t normally do. Today, Breana went out to a reactivated stream channel with the Stream Team to collect data on the effect of this reactivation on the algae and soils in the stream channel. Diane McKnight, Lee Stanish, Diana Wall and Breana Simmons had been talking about this experiment for quite some time, and everyone was really excited to get it done. Unfortunately, Diana could not come with us. This has happened to her a lot this season. Poor Diana!

Getting started, Diane explained the history of the stream experiment. Here you can see the sandbag wall that was used to redirect the flow of water from the glacier.
At the Top of the Relict Channel

In the original experiment, 9 transects were sampled along the stream. Logistically it was impossible for us to sample in the same places, because the channel has changed a lot since 1995, but we still decided to choose 9 sites along the stream, focusing on the orange algae that is common in flowing streams here in Taylor Valley.

Orange Algal Mat
Algal Mat

Lee collected algae for molecular and morphological identification. This will give us an indication of algal biomass, diversity and production in the stream.

Breana collected algae and soil for molecular and morphological identification of soil organisms. This will tell us what the soil fauna biodiversity is in the stream, and should correlate nicely with the algal data. Andrew and Nate measured the width of the wet margin, the depth to permafrost across that margin, and stream flow, and collected water samples for nutrient analysis and dissolved organic matter (DOM). These kinds of measures will help us to understand the stream channel, how it’s flowing, where the flow is coming from, etc.
Diane and Andrew

Diane supervised. She is very good at this. Plus, she was the only one who was here the last time it was sampled, so she had to find all the plots!

All this data means we will have LOTS to do when we get home. Breana has to analyze the nematode data and send the molecular samples to Byron Adams at BYU. Lee has to process her molecular samples and spend many hours at the microscope identifying diatoms. When all the data is in, we will write a really nice paper about how the stream reactivation project affected the biodiversity of the stream. And it only took us one day to get all the samples!