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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Dec 2018

Research article | 14 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

From substrate to soil in a pristine environment – pedochemical, micromorphological and microbiological properties from soils on James Ross Island, Antarctica

Lars A. Meier1,*, Patryk Krauze2,*, Isabel Prater3, Fabian Horn2, Carlos E. G. R. Schaefer4, Thomas Scholten1, Dirk Wagner2,5, Carsten W. Mueller3, and Peter Kühn1 Lars A. Meier et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, 72070, Germany
  • 2GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section Geomicrobiology, Potsdam, 14473, Germany
  • 3Lehrstuhl für Bodenkunde, TU München, Freising, 85354, Germany
  • 4Departamento de Solos, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, 36571-000, Brazil
  • 5Institute for Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 14476, Germany
  • *shared first authorship

Abstract. James Ross Island (JRI) offers the exceptional opportunity to study pedogenesis without the influence of vascular plants or faunal activities (e.g. penguin rookeries) in a landscape marking the transition from maritime to continental Antarctica. Here, primarily microbial communities control soil biological processes and affect soil chemical and physical properties in a semiarid region with mean annual precipitation from 200 to 500 mm and mean air temperature below 0 °C. The impact of climate change on soil forming processes in this part of Antarctica and its related microbial processes is unknown. In this study, two soil profiles from JRI (one at St. Martha Cove – SMC, and another at Brandy Bay – BB) were investigated by combining pedological, geochemical and microbiological methods. The soil profiles are similar in respect to topographic position and parent material but are spatially separated by an orographic barrier and therefore represent lee- and windward locations towards the mainly south-westerly winds. Opposing trends in the depth functions of pH and differences in EC-values are caused by additional input of bases by sea spray at BB, the site close to the Prince Gustav Channel. Both soils are classified as Cryosols, dominated by bacterial taxa such as Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Gemmatimonadates and Chloroflexi. A shift in the dominant taxa in both soils and an increased abundance of multiple operational taxonomic units (OTUs) related to potential chemolithoautotrophic Acidoferrobacteraceae was observed. This shift was accompanied by a change in soil microstructure below 20 cm depth, with potential impact on water availability and matter fluxes. Multivariate statistics revealed correlations between the microbial community structure and soil parameters such as chloride, sulfate, calcium and organic carbon contents, grain size distribution, as well as the pedogenic oxide ratio.

Lars A. Meier et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Lars A. Meier et al.
Lars A. Meier et al.
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Short summary
James Ross Island offers the opportunity to study the undisturbed interplay of microbial activity and pedogenesis. Soils from two sites representing coastal and inland conditions were chosen and analysed with a wide range of techniques to describe soil properties. We are able to show that coastal conditions go along with more intense weathering and therefore favor soil formation and that microbial communities are initially more affected by weathering and structure than by chemical parameters.
James Ross Island offers the opportunity to study the undisturbed interplay of microbial...