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Greenland Ice Sheet surface as a model ecosystem for microbial macroecology


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Fieldwork / Study

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Greenland, South-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 67.205717718953, -45.268410311248

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Project details

Science / project plan

Project goal:  To test macroecological hypotheses concerning microbial assembly rules, taxa-abundance distribution, geographical distance decay in community similarity, and spatial patterns of phylogenetic vs. ecological groups using data on microbial community from the Greenland ice sheet surface.

Fieldwork: Collection of nearly 400 samples distributed among 22 landing sites in the Greenland ice sheet ablation zone between Nuuk and Ilulissat during the peak summer in as narrow as possible time-frame.

Science / project summary

Ecological processes at large scales are studied in complex ecosystems that are shaped by multiple factors at various scales. Moreover, many fundamental (macro)ecological questions become difficult when applied to microorganisms, due to the complexity and dynamics of their communities. As a result, microbial macroecology is still in its infancy. Here we propose research that overcomes these problems by using a simple model ecosystem – the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). The principal aims of the project are to gather a unique microbial community data set from the surface of the GrIS and to use this data set to test key macroecological hypotheses concerning assembly rules of microbial communities and spatial patterns in the distribution and diversity of phylogenetic vs. functional groups of microorganisms at different taxonomical levels. We expect this research will bring novel insights into two fields of ecology – macroecology and microbial ecology – by combining the expertise and methodologies of both disciplines.

Publications related to project

Kohler TJ, Vinšová P, Falteisek L, Žárský JD, Yde JC, Hatton JE, Hawkings JR, Lamarche-Gagnon G, Hood E, Cameron KA, Stibal M (2020) Patterns in microbial assemblages exported from the meltwater of Arctic and sub-Arctic glaciers. Frontiers in Microbiology 11:669 doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00669

Gokul JK, Cameron KA, Irvine-Fynn TDL, Cook JM, Hubbard A, Stibal M, Hegarty M, Mur LAJ, Edwards A (2019) Illuminating the dynamic rare biosphere of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s Dark Zone. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 95:fiz177 doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiz177

Žárský JD, Kohler TJ, Yde JC, Falteisek L, Lamarche-Gagnon G, Hawkings JR, Hatton JE, Stibal M (2018) Prokaryotic assemblages in suspended and subglacial sediments within a glacierized catchment on Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island), west Greenland. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 94:fiy100 doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy100

Cameron KA, Stibal M, Hawkings JR, Mikkelsen AB, Telling J, Kohler TJ, Gözdereliler E, Zarsky JD, Wadham JL, Jacobsen CS (2017) Meltwater export of prokaryotic cells from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Environmental Microbiology 19:524–534 doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13483

Cameron KA, Stibal M, Zarsky JD, Gözdereliler E, Schostag M, Jacobsen CS (2016) Supraglacial bacterial community structures vary across the Greenland ice sheet. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 92:fiv164  doi:10.1093/femsec/fiv164