Microbiome diversity and function in the Sør Rondane Mountains, East Antarctica - MICROBIAN

15 December 2016 → 15 March 2021
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Climate change
    • Remote sensing
    • Physical geography and environmental geoscience not elsewhere classified
    • Soil ecology
    • Terrestrial ecology
    • Biogeography and phylogeography
    • Microbiomes
    • Soil biology
Microbial biodiversity habitat mapping ecosystem function climate change human impact
Project description

The scarce ice-free areas in inland East-Antarctica, such as the Sør Rondane Mountains (SRM), are among the most extreme terrestrial environments on Earth. Here, life is dominated by microbes in strongly truncated foodwebs. Elucidating the factors that shape the biodiversity and the biogeochemical processes of these microbiomes provides the scientific basis for habitat mapping and classification, developing conservation strategies, guiding long-term monitoring efforts, and predicting their possible response to future environmental changes. The SRM encompass a large range of terrestrial habitats differing in geology and soil characteristics, exposure time and microclimatic conditions. The objectives of the BelSPO funded project MICROBIAN are to (i) use a combination of remote sensing and close-range field observation techniques, (ii) generate a comprehensive inventory of the microbial taxonomic and functional diversity, and characterize microbial indicator taxa, (iii) measure key ecosystem functions such as carbon and nutrient cycling, (iv) use mesocosm field experiments to mimic the possible effects of future climate change on these microbial ecosystems, and (v) conduct field experiments to inform policy-makers. MICROBIAN will provide a proof of concept to use high resolution satellite images for identifying regions of particular biological interest in East Antarctica and more broadly make a significant contribution to understanding Antarctic terrestrial microbial ecology.