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Ice-lidded cryoconite holes on glaciers in the Taylor Valley, Antarctica, provide a unique system of natural mesocosms for studying community structure and assembly. We used high-throughput DNA sequencing to characterize both microbial eukaryotic communities and bacterial communities within cryoconite holes across three glaciers to study similarities in their spatial patterns. We expected that the alpha (phylogenetic diversity) and beta (pairwise community dissimilarity) diversity patterns of eukaryotes in cryoconite holes would be related to those of bacteria, and that they would be related to the biogeochemical gradient within the Taylor Valley. We found that eukaryotic alpha and beta diversity were strongly related to those of bacteria across scales ranging from 140 m to 41 km apart. Alpha diversity of both was significantly related to position in the valley and surface area of the cryoconite hole, with pH also significantly correlated with the eukaryotic diversity. Beta diversity for both bacteria and eukaryotes was significantly related to position in the valley, with bacterial beta diversity also related to nitrate. These results are consistent with transport of sediments onto glaciers occurring primarily at local scales relative to the size of the valley, thus creating feedbacks in local chemistry and diversity.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: FEMS microbiology ecology
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