A long-term soil manipulation experiment has been conducted as part of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project. The response of soil organisms (nematodes, rotifers and tardigrades) to the treatments is monitored by sampling soil on an annual basis.
Concerns over environmental disturbance in the McMurdo Dry Valleys are increasing with increasing foot traffic from tourists and scientist. The effect of pedestrian disturbance was monitored by comparing the species composition, depth distribution and soil properties between adjacent high-, low- and no- traffic sites. This study began in the austral summer 1995/1996.
Increases in soil temperature and moisture may change the bioavailability of essential elements by altering solubility and diffusion rates in soils, or by changing the amounts of organic compounds. Long-term experiments in the Bonney, Hoare and Fryxell basins have been established with 3 treatments: 1) increased moisture, 2) soil warming (ITEX chambers), and 3) soil warming + increased moisture. The identification and abundance of soil biota are reported.