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  • During field work in 2001 over 1600 specimens were collected from four main fossil plant assemblages: the ''Nordenksjold flora'' from the Cross Valley Formation of Late Palaeocene age; and 3 floras from La Meseta Formation i) Flora2 from the Valle De Las Focas allomember, ~late Early Eocene, ii) Wiman Flora, Acantilados allomember, late Early/mid Eocene, iii) Cucullaea 1, Cuculleae 1 allomember Flora, early Late Eocene. In addition smaller collections of fossils from other parts of the La Meseta Formation were collected. The work concentrated on the Late Palaeocene and the Cuculleae 1 floras as these were the best preserved and had sufficient morphotypes for climate analysis. In the Late Palaeocene flora 36 angiosperm leaf morphotypes were identified, along with 2 pteridophytes (ferns), and podocarp and araucarian conifers. Discovery of several new leaf types indicates that the Tertiary floras from Antarctica were more diverse than previously thought.

  • Samples of early Tertiary age fossil wood and leaves were collected from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula, in 2001. Fossils from Palaeogene strata were studied to determine the nature of vegetation response to the fundamental change from greenhouse to icehouse climates in Antarctica. Palaeoclimate data was derived using CLAMP (Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program) and several Leaf Margin Analysis (LMA) techniques based on the physiognomic properties of the leaves. Climate interpretation of the fossils produced new data on terrestrial climate change at high latitudes and were used to test and validate climate models, and to establish whether climate-induced changes in biodiversity occurred in a gradual or punctuated manner.

  • Soil temperature measurements taken at various sites on Signy Island during the 2008-2009 field season. These measurements were used as part of an investigation to understand the effect of temperature and moisture on the availability of different nitrogen forms.

  • Soil moisture measurements taken at various sites on Signy Island during the 2008-2009 field season. These measurements were used as part of an investigation to understand the effect of temperature and moisture on the availability of different nitrogen forms.

  • Soil temperature was monitored at 5 soil sampling times and ambient air temperature was monitored at each site throughout the field season. The sampling sites were: Bare soil at higher elevations, namely Observation Bluff, Factory Bluffs, Jane Col and lower parts of Spindrift Col; Soils from below mosses on the Backslope and on Moss Braes. Soils from below higher plant species at Bernsten Point, Factory Bluffs, Moss Braes and North Point. Orthinogenic soils from around penguin colonies at Gourlay Peninsula, Spindrift Rocks and North Point and disturbed soil from around Signy Base.

  • The majority of Antarctic lichens produce sexual organs, and in many species sexual ascospores appear to be the only reproductive propagule. However, it is unknown whether sexual reproduction involves selfing (homothallism) or outcrossing (heterothallism). To investigate this issue we have established axenic cultures of sexual progeny in order to generate DNA fingerprints and thereby determine the breeding system.

  • The fieldwork involved collection of fertile lichens from a range of sites across the Antarctic Peninsula and isolation of the lichen-forming fungi into pure culture in a laboratory at Rothera. Approximately 5,600 monospore cultures were isolated, including B frigida. Approximately 400 thalli of Usnea species, and 3 O. frigida thalli have also been collected for whole thallus analysis. Logarithmic sampling transects of B frigida were conducted at Rothera (2 transects) and on Anchorage Island (one transect) to examine the genetic variation and geographic variation. All thalli of B frigida collected from the transects were successfully used to generate viable spores from four individual apothecia from each thallus. 16 spores were subcultured and maintained from each apothecium.

  • To identify and quantify soil N species over a full growth season, small volumes of soil were removed from each sampling site 5 times during the field season and extracted in the laboratory. Bare soil at higher elevations, namely Observation Bluff, Factory Bluffs, Jane Col and lower parts of Spindrift Col; Soils from below mosses on the Backslope and on Moss Braes. Soils from below higher plant species at Bernsten Point, Factory Bluffs, Moss Braes and North Point. Orthinogenic soils from around penguin colonies at Gourlay Peninsula, Spindrift Rocks and North Point and disturbed soil from around Signy Base were collected. At the same time, soil pore water was extracted using Rhizon soil water samplers. DON (Dissolved organic Nitrogen) and Microbial biomass measurements were made by standard CHCl3 fumigation-extraction techniques. Turnover of DON in the soil was determined by the addition of 14C-labelled plant protein (purified from 14C-labelled algal cells) or 14C-labelled glucose to the soil at a range of concentrations, and their turnover (soil label depletion in combination with NH4 +, NO3-and 14CO2 production) was determined. Gross rates of N mineralization and nitrification were determined using 15N isotope dilution methodology. Laboratory analysis of N speciation and quantification, 14C uptake and respiration, 13C PLFA signatures and 15N analysis was done. Amino acid turnover times have been determined using 14C labelled amino acids. For the final stage of the project a mathematical model to describe plant-soil-microbial N fluxes in Antarctic soils was constructed.

  • To identify and quantify soil N species over a full growth season, small volumes of soil were removed from each sampling site 5 times during the field season and extracted in the laboratory. Bare soil at higher elevations, namely Observation Bluff, Factory Bluffs, Jane Col and lower parts of Spindrift Col; Soils from below mosses on the Backslope and on Moss Braes. Soils from below higher plant species at Bernsten Point, Factory Bluffs, Moss Braes and North Point. Orthinogenic soils from around penguin colonies at Gourlay peninsula, Spindrift rocks and North Point and disturbed soil from around Signy Base were collected.

  • To investigate the availability of peptides in the soils on Signy Island, soil solutions were sampled throughout the summer season, from mid November 2008 until early March 2009. Soil solution samples were extracted under vacuum, with minimal disturbance to the soil, through small porous tubes. A total of 19 sites across the island were sampled in areas dominated by all the major primary producers, vascular plants, mosses, algae and lichens. The collected soil solution samples were analysed for different forms of nitrogen, including peptides.