This Thursday, Nishka Wright will be giving a talk titled:
Is snowmelt the key to understanding plant nutrient availability in the low Arctic?
at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)
The seminar is hosted by the Grogan Lab
Given that soil microbes seem to be superior competitors for nutrients in most terrestrial ecosystems, how plants succeed in acquiring nutrients to support their growth remains a fundamental mystery. I suggest that snowmelt is an event that adversely affects soil microbes providing an opportunity for plants to take up coveted nutrients. As air temperatures warm during the winter-spring transition period, snowmelt water floods the soil. Microbes are distracted as they attempt to acclimatize to new environmental conditions, making them poor competitors for soil nutrients, and resulting in an inadvertent release of their own nutrients to increase soil nutrient pools. Continued snowmelt, however, dilutes soil nutrient pools and masks any increases. In fact, preliminary interpretations of the data suggest that characteristics of the snowpack (i.e. snowpack depth) and the duration of snowmelt, largely determine the magnitude of microbial nutrient release. Diluted nutrients may then flow downslope from the source to accumulate at lower elevations. Altogether, this process may in part explain why plant primary production tends to be greatest in areas of low elevation across the low arctic tundra landscape.
Nishka is an MSc student in the Grogan lab.