Meltwater seep patches increase heterogeneity of soil geochemistry and therefore habitat suitability

Rebecca Ball, Ross A. Virginia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The planet is undergoing an unequivocal period of climate change, with alterations in both longterm directional change and more local short-term variability. The amplified responses of polar ecosystems, and the potential feedbacks presented through alterations of soil processes, make it important to understand the consequences of climate change in polar soil systems. The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica have experienced periodic discrete warm climate events that result in melt water pulses from ice reserves, such as meltwater seep patches, alter geochemistry, and change habitat suitability for soil biotic communities and the ecological processes dictated by their activity. To investigate the consequences of soil seeps on soil geochemistry and biological activity, we sampled transects across six soil meltwater seep patches and measured soil water content, ion content, and potential CO 2 flux to compare the seep habitat with the surrounding dry soil. We hypothesized that soils affected by meltwater seeps would be higher in salt content than the surrounding dry soils outside the seep patch. Though the increase in soil moisture in seeps could potentially increase biotic activity, we hypothesize that the osmotic stress resulting from a rise in soil salt concentration at the surface driven by evaporation would cause a decrease in biological activity. Our results show that seep patches increased soil moisture and salt content, particularly at the soil surface. The unaffected areas outside of seep patches differed widely in their ion content, typical of the high spatial geochemical heterogeneity found in the dry valleys. The presence of newly formed ice melt seeps can increase landscape-scale spatial heterogeneity by redistribution of soil salts from depth to the surface zone of the active layer. Seep patches have variable influence on biological activity, with both increases and decreases in respiration observed, related to the relative magnitudes of increases in moisture and salinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-660
Number of pages9
JournalGeoderma
Volume189-190
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Fingerprint

geochemistry
soil heterogeneity
snowmelt
meltwater
habitat
habitats
soil
soil salts
bioactive properties
salt content
soil water content
ice
valleys
soil suitability
climate change
ions
soil moisture
salt
biocenosis
valley

Keywords

  • Desert soils
  • Ice melt
  • McMurdo Dry Valleys
  • Polar soils
  • Seeps
  • Water pulse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science

Cite this

Meltwater seep patches increase heterogeneity of soil geochemistry and therefore habitat suitability. / Ball, Rebecca; Virginia, Ross A.

In: Geoderma, Vol. 189-190, 11.2012, p. 652-660.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{f9c4dac597d6420b954e8eb7c5023166,
title = "Meltwater seep patches increase heterogeneity of soil geochemistry and therefore habitat suitability",
abstract = "The planet is undergoing an unequivocal period of climate change, with alterations in both longterm directional change and more local short-term variability. The amplified responses of polar ecosystems, and the potential feedbacks presented through alterations of soil processes, make it important to understand the consequences of climate change in polar soil systems. The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica have experienced periodic discrete warm climate events that result in melt water pulses from ice reserves, such as meltwater seep patches, alter geochemistry, and change habitat suitability for soil biotic communities and the ecological processes dictated by their activity. To investigate the consequences of soil seeps on soil geochemistry and biological activity, we sampled transects across six soil meltwater seep patches and measured soil water content, ion content, and potential CO 2 flux to compare the seep habitat with the surrounding dry soil. We hypothesized that soils affected by meltwater seeps would be higher in salt content than the surrounding dry soils outside the seep patch. Though the increase in soil moisture in seeps could potentially increase biotic activity, we hypothesize that the osmotic stress resulting from a rise in soil salt concentration at the surface driven by evaporation would cause a decrease in biological activity. Our results show that seep patches increased soil moisture and salt content, particularly at the soil surface. The unaffected areas outside of seep patches differed widely in their ion content, typical of the high spatial geochemical heterogeneity found in the dry valleys. The presence of newly formed ice melt seeps can increase landscape-scale spatial heterogeneity by redistribution of soil salts from depth to the surface zone of the active layer. Seep patches have variable influence on biological activity, with both increases and decreases in respiration observed, related to the relative magnitudes of increases in moisture and salinity.",
keywords = "Desert soils, Ice melt, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Polar soils, Seeps, Water pulse",
author = "Rebecca Ball and Virginia, {Ross A.}",
year = "2012",
month = "11",
doi = "10.1016/j.geoderma.2012.06.028",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "189-190",
pages = "652--660",
journal = "Geoderma",
issn = "0016-7061",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Meltwater seep patches increase heterogeneity of soil geochemistry and therefore habitat suitability

AU - Ball, Rebecca

AU - Virginia, Ross A.

PY - 2012/11

Y1 - 2012/11

N2 - The planet is undergoing an unequivocal period of climate change, with alterations in both longterm directional change and more local short-term variability. The amplified responses of polar ecosystems, and the potential feedbacks presented through alterations of soil processes, make it important to understand the consequences of climate change in polar soil systems. The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica have experienced periodic discrete warm climate events that result in melt water pulses from ice reserves, such as meltwater seep patches, alter geochemistry, and change habitat suitability for soil biotic communities and the ecological processes dictated by their activity. To investigate the consequences of soil seeps on soil geochemistry and biological activity, we sampled transects across six soil meltwater seep patches and measured soil water content, ion content, and potential CO 2 flux to compare the seep habitat with the surrounding dry soil. We hypothesized that soils affected by meltwater seeps would be higher in salt content than the surrounding dry soils outside the seep patch. Though the increase in soil moisture in seeps could potentially increase biotic activity, we hypothesize that the osmotic stress resulting from a rise in soil salt concentration at the surface driven by evaporation would cause a decrease in biological activity. Our results show that seep patches increased soil moisture and salt content, particularly at the soil surface. The unaffected areas outside of seep patches differed widely in their ion content, typical of the high spatial geochemical heterogeneity found in the dry valleys. The presence of newly formed ice melt seeps can increase landscape-scale spatial heterogeneity by redistribution of soil salts from depth to the surface zone of the active layer. Seep patches have variable influence on biological activity, with both increases and decreases in respiration observed, related to the relative magnitudes of increases in moisture and salinity.

AB - The planet is undergoing an unequivocal period of climate change, with alterations in both longterm directional change and more local short-term variability. The amplified responses of polar ecosystems, and the potential feedbacks presented through alterations of soil processes, make it important to understand the consequences of climate change in polar soil systems. The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica have experienced periodic discrete warm climate events that result in melt water pulses from ice reserves, such as meltwater seep patches, alter geochemistry, and change habitat suitability for soil biotic communities and the ecological processes dictated by their activity. To investigate the consequences of soil seeps on soil geochemistry and biological activity, we sampled transects across six soil meltwater seep patches and measured soil water content, ion content, and potential CO 2 flux to compare the seep habitat with the surrounding dry soil. We hypothesized that soils affected by meltwater seeps would be higher in salt content than the surrounding dry soils outside the seep patch. Though the increase in soil moisture in seeps could potentially increase biotic activity, we hypothesize that the osmotic stress resulting from a rise in soil salt concentration at the surface driven by evaporation would cause a decrease in biological activity. Our results show that seep patches increased soil moisture and salt content, particularly at the soil surface. The unaffected areas outside of seep patches differed widely in their ion content, typical of the high spatial geochemical heterogeneity found in the dry valleys. The presence of newly formed ice melt seeps can increase landscape-scale spatial heterogeneity by redistribution of soil salts from depth to the surface zone of the active layer. Seep patches have variable influence on biological activity, with both increases and decreases in respiration observed, related to the relative magnitudes of increases in moisture and salinity.

KW - Desert soils

KW - Ice melt

KW - McMurdo Dry Valleys

KW - Polar soils

KW - Seeps

KW - Water pulse

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84866505643&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84866505643&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.geoderma.2012.06.028

DO - 10.1016/j.geoderma.2012.06.028

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84866505643

VL - 189-190

SP - 652

EP - 660

JO - Geoderma

JF - Geoderma

SN - 0016-7061

ER -