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Phototrophic community succession as driver of mineral weathering and soil formation along chronosequences in maritime Antarctica (SPP 1158 "Antarctic Research")

Leitung:Dr. Jens Boy, Dr. Robert Mikutta, Dr. Olga Shibistova, Prof. Dr. Georg Guggenberger, Prof. Dr. Roberto Godoy
Bearbeitung:Dr. Olga Shibistova, Ning Ning Zhao, Mauricio Aguirre Morales
Förderung durch:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: DFG-Projekt (BO 3741 2-1)

The overarching goal of this application is to investigate the interrelation of two major biological processes contributing to soil formation; (a) the increase of OC allocation to soil due to succession of photosynthetically active organisms from cyanobacteria, microalgae, and endolithic lichens to higher plants and (b) mineral weathering. The study will be carried out on soil chronosequences defined by glacier retreat (directly as uncovered substratum and indirectly as raised Palaeobeaches).
We expect this study to provide a general understanding of initial processes in the formation of a biogeosystem by biogenic weathering. It will define specific stages and thresholds in the development of a pure geosystem to a biogeosystem. These soil studies in the unique natural laboratory of chronosequences at King George Island may provide the basis for a more integrated system studies approach, where the early development of soil, its feedback on life, the impact in the formation of a biogeosystem, and the biogeochemical response on Global Change can be studied.
In a more specific sense, we expect quantitative information on the formation of soil by biogenic weathering. We will be able to determine whether biogenic weathering follows a succession in subsurface weathering organisms from bacteria to fungi. It will be clarified, whether biogenic weathering is an active, directional process, including nutrient selectiveness by weathering organisms. Furthermore we will elucidate, whether biogenic weathering is linked to photosynthetic active organisms, or can depend on carbon sources from outside the ecosystem alone, e.g., eolian dust deposits. All in all, we will considerably contribute to the understanding if and how life alters its own habitat in young ecosystems.