mardi 12 février 2013

Antarctic companions and landscapes

Hello,
Lourenco Bandeira has come back from Escudero station with some pictures given by Dail. Indeed, the Internet connection is not very good, and it is difficult to send pictures for this blog by email. So, I share them with you:

The lively and busy pinguins are nice to see!





  The landscape is black and white, especially when the fog is present.
 
 


 Cheers, Annick

vendredi 8 février 2013

In Escudero Station

Dear all,
Dail has arrived on the 3rd February at the Chilean station Escudero. 

The weather has not been very nice this season, and there is an unusually important snow cover. This could be a problem for field work!



Dail has immediately started to go to the field and take samples. We are mostly interested in microbial mats that can be found in lakes, or meltwaters. These mats are made by filamentous cyanobacteria that produce the 'matrix' of the mats, where other organisms are also living (other microalgae, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, rotifers, tardigrades...).


However, other ecosystems are interesting to study for the presence of cyanobacteria and microalgae. For example, in the picture below, they sample soil which is just in front of a glacier.



The mats are often red/brown, 


This is due to protective pigments that protect the upper layers of the mat against the high light intensities and the high UV radiations.


For several days, now, Dail will walk on the Antarctic Peninsula with the colleagues at the Escudero Station, and look for interesting samples.





Cheers, Annick

lundi 4 février 2013

The participation to the expedition of INACH (Chile)

On the 29th January 2013, Dr Dail Laughinghouse (University of Liège) has started a long journey that would bring him to Punta Arenas (Chile, Patagonia) and then, to Antarctica. This collaboration is allowed thanks to the cooperation between INACH (The Antarctic Chilean Institute) and BELSPO (Belgian Science Policy Office) and most of all, to the kind invitation by Dr José Retamales!!

José Retamales, director of INACH at the SCAR/COMNAP meeting in Portland
  In August, Marcelo Gonzalez (INACH) has visited us in Liège to discuss a possible collaboration. Then, in November, Annick Wilmotte (ULg) met Marcelo and Paris Lavin at the South-American Congress of Microbiology in Santos (Brazil). 

Vivian Pellizari (USP) chairing a workshop to foster the scientific collaborations between South-American countries active in Antarctica research (databases, meetings, etc)
Dail volunteered to participate to the Chilean expedition, as he has never been in Antarctica but has already field experience for sampling, though it was a bit hotter (Belize :-)).

                                               Dail Haywood Laughinghouse

Dail has studied in Brazil and the US, and since 2004, he has been working on the taxonomy and ecology of cyanobacteria and microalgae. He has presented his thesis at the University of Maryland in June 2012 and joined the team of Dr. Annick Wilmotte, at the Centre for Protein Engineering, to work on the diversity and biogeography of polar cyanobacteria as a mobility post-doc financed by the FRS-FNRS.

mercredi 19 décembre 2012

Life in an extreme environment

Hello all,
Today (19th of January), I climbed up the Mt. Vikinghegda (2751m). It was so windy, cold and dry. It looked just like a desert. But I was very surprised by the resilience of living organisms!! I could find many algae and lichens under the surface of rocks 

                                           Picture of cryptoendolithic communities
 And at last, mosses were waiting for me !!  They were growing in the gaps between pebbles, at over 2100 m altitude. I believe that it should be the most severe and ultimate environment for mosses.
 This discovery made me very happy. This is a wonderful conclusion to my BELDIVA expedition to the Princess Elisabeth Station! Indeed, I will leave on the morning of the 21th December.

I would like to thank the Station personnel, the field guides and all the ones that made this expedition possible!

Best regards, Satoshi

mardi 18 décembre 2012

Snow White and Prasiola

Hi Annick,

One day, I've get a chance to visit Mt. Yukidori-toride, meaning
"Castle of snow petrels" in Japanese.  Large number of snow petrels
(pure white sea birds) are nested in the shade of rocks, and we can
find quite rich vegetation of green algae Prasiola, around their nest.
These algae are using the nutrients from the droppings of petrels. Indeed, the Petrels are transporting these nutrients from the sea to the inland nunatak.
They have to fly about 400 kms to get their food and come back to the nest, and sometimes feed a chick.
  
Snow White in Antarctica. A seabird, snow petrel. 
  
Green algae (Prasiola) around the nest of Snow petrel, Mt. Yukidori-toride.
 
Have a nice day, Satoshi Imura
 国立極地研究所
伊村 智

lundi 17 décembre 2012

Maintenance of Open Top Chambers

Dear all,
In addition to the exploration of the biodiversity of mosses and lichens, Satoshi Imura has also the important task of maintaining the Open Top Chambers that were installed in 2010 in four sites by Zorigto Namsaraev and Josef Elster.  We have placed microsensors to measure temperature and humidity in these OTC and in the control sites. They are programmed to take measurements during one year. However, after one year, their memory is full and they must be replaced. 
In November, Elie Verleyen went to the NIPR (Nippon Institute for Polar Research) in Tokyo and took all the necessary material. He showed Imura how to use the reader of the sensors, so that he could send us the data, and how to programme the new sensors for the next season.
In the blog, we already have explained the purpose of the Open Top Chambers:
 http://antarcticabelgium.blogspot.be/2010/02/simulation-de-changements-climatiques.html
Here is a picture of the Open Top Chamber on the Utsteinen Ridge. As the plexiglas is transparent, it is hard to see the plastic hexagone. We are always a bit worried that somebody would step on it by accident. Here, the OTC is snow-free. This was not the case of all OTC that Satoshi have visited, unfortunately. Indeed, it is impossible to locate the sensors when the OTC is covered by snow.


Cheers, Annick
 
 

vendredi 14 décembre 2012

The lichen and mosses

Hi Annick,

I want to show the main representants of the terrestrial vegetation in this region, mosses, lichens and algae.

Fresh green moss under the sand, Utsteinen.
 
 Blackish fruticose lichen (Usnea), Utsteinen.
 
Orange lichen on the rock, Mt. Yukidori-toride. 
 
 
Satoshi Imura