Challenging the paradigm for plant-microbial resource partitioning in Antarctic ecosystems

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Antarctic Survey
Department Name: Science Programmes


The Antarctic is a uniquely important 'natural laboratory' for examining ecosystem responses to climate change, and it is vital that the biological changes being observed there are properly understood. Its uniqueness comes from a combination of the simplicity of its ecosystems, which exhibit restricted species diversity and food chain complexity, with environmental warming which is occurring at approximately twice the rate of change in temperate regions. The proposed research will develop novel experimental and modelling techniques to find out the importance in Antarctic soils of specific forms of nitrogen. In addition, we want to find out whether these forms of organic nitrogen are available to microbes and plants, and whether global warming will alter the nitrogen dynamics of Antarctic soils. We hypothesize that our research may offer an explanation for recent expansions in vascular plant populations on the Antarctic continent. The work directly underpins policy relating to climate change and biodiversity in polar regions. The work is also extremely relevant to many other low-input ecosystems around the world (e.g. boreal forest, Arctic tundra, tropical rainforest).


10 25 50
Description That plants can access different forms of organic nitrogen from soil which changes our fundamental view of soil nitrogen cycling
Exploitation Route Potential use by fertiliser companies
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description Discussions with fertiliser companies
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Economic