National Geographic "Antarctica:Life at the Bottom of the World"p2 – 36
Scientists has spent all or part of the current summer in the Taylor Valley.The study of algae and glaciers.They are tracing how the creatures that live in this environment adapt to each other and to the Antarctic's extreme conditions.Using Dry Valley soils as a model for the more complex soils that exist in the rest of the world.The dearth of species here makes relationships between organisms and their environment easier to discern.In normal soils, the soil organisms are extremely complex, there are as many species in the soil as you have above ground.Soil scientists have found as many as 110 different nematode species living in the grassland soil of Colorado and that's not including earthworms and ants.In Taylor Valley, the soil is home to only bacteria and three species of nematode.This is one of the few places on earth where you can pick up a handful of soil and not find a nematode at all.The researchers work at a Long Term Ecological Research site established by the National Science Foundation at Lake Hoare, which is about two miles long and lies at the edge of the Canada Glacier.The glacier ends in a sharply scarped lobe about halfway up the 18 mile valley.The nematode researchers, measuring what factors affect the abundance and variety of nematodes.Among other things, they have discovered that when it is too cold and dry, nematodes enter a state of suspended animation, called anhydrobiosis, in which they lose up to 99 percent of the water in their bodies, essentially freeze-dried.In this freeze-dried condition, the nematodes are easily dispersed by the wind, another factor the scientists are eager to measure.The scientist believe that nematodes were in meltwater pool atop the glacier.The scientist are also interested in what influence nematodes have on the carbon cycle when they consume bacteria that in…

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