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The ecological dichotomy of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria in the hyper-arid soils of the Antarctic Dry Valleys (NZTABS)

Terrestrial Antarctic Biocomplexity Survey. The New Zealand Terrestrial Antarctic Biocomplexity survey (NZTABS) is the largest and most comprehensive landscape scale biological study ever undertaken. The Antarctic Dry Valley system offers unprecedented access to a trophically simple biological system that appears to be solely structured by abiotic environmental drivers. The primary biology in this system is microbial. Linking a range of high-resolution remote sensing data with over 600 person days in the field, the 220 km2 3 valley NZTABS survey now includes over 650 spatially strategic soil samples targeting the diversity habitats in the system. Each sample and site has been analyzed for a range of geochemistry as well as a comprehensive survey of biology (all visible vegetation, insects, all infauna and flora (nematodes, rotifers, tartigrades), and microbiology). The initial microbial surveys (Bacteria, Cyanobacteria, fungi) were carried only using DNA fingerprinting analysis. All of the information has been placed into and interactive GIS framework allowing direct relationships between all parameters to be queried. The central objective of the survey is to determine the primary environmental drivers for structuring the biology to enable us to develop a model that can predict the distribution of biology across the entire Dry Valley system (6500 km2) using only remote sensing. Ultimately we hope that the model will be able to identify areas of sensitivity or unusual complexity that should be protected.

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