Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-16-2019


The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) of Antarctica are on the threshold of widespread landscape scale change due to increasing temperature and solar radiation and altered hydrology: buried ice is melting, the soil active layer is thickening, thermokarst features are developing along streams, water tracks are expanding, and lake levels are rising. These changes will impact the microbial communities found in each of the affected habitats. The purpose of this work is to first, understand the spatial distribution of soil bacteria in the MDV, specifically investigating the scale-dependent effects of environmental heterogeneity, and second, to perform surveys and coupled experiments to document and assess the impacts of these changes on the associated microbial communities. Our results suggest that this region harbors highly adapted, endemic communities that are susceptible to changing environmental conditions.

Project Sponsors

NSF OPP Award # 1245991 & 1142102




McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, Soil Bacteria, Spatial Heterogeneity, Water tracks, Soil active layer

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Donald Natvig

Second Committee Member

Dr. David Van Horn

Third Committee Member

Dr. Robert Sinsabaugh

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Becky Ball