The western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) ecosystem is one of the most sensitive environments to climate change, having experienced an increase in mean air temperatures of 2–3°Celsius over the past 50 years. It is not surprising that WAP waters are warming as well. Efforts are underway to understand how this warming will alter the ecology of organisms, environmental feedbacks and food web structure. The microbial DNA sequences generated from this project will be used to gain a better understanding of the relationship between bacterial community structure, growth rates and other aspects of metabolic activity of bacterial taxa in coastal marine waters. The data collected on bacterial community structure and metabolism is expected to help improve the researchers’ understanding of the current state of the WAP ecosystem and how it may respond to the accelerating changes it is now experiencing. Additionally, this study will contribute much to the growing collection of data sets distributed among ocean biomes by sampling high latitude, Antarctic marine waters.
PI: Matt Cottrell, University of Delaware