A Quick Recap
As mentioned in previous journals, this project is investigating the dynamics of the tundra soil ecosystem by determining the impact that the wolf spider has on detritivores that live in the soil. Remember that these organisms play an important role in the decomposition of organic matter in the soil, which could ultimately impact the amount of carbon that is released as the permafrost begins to thaw.
Amanda and I model our bugshirts for a day of field work on the tundra.
Sampling the Tundra
Today marked the day when Amanda took the final soil samples from the spider plots here at Toolik. Each sample will be analyzed to identify the numbers and types of creatures living in the different plots. Recall that the plots each have a different number of spiders and warming treatments, so it is expected that there should be differences in the soil samples as well. Taking a sample from tundra soil isn’t as easy as it would seem. It can be very wet (due to permafrost thaw) and difficult to section – at a certain point, the permafrost is as hard as rock (well…it is frozen. Thick ice is pretty dense after all).
Typical devices used for taking soil samples. Image courtesy of University of Missouri Soil Plant Lab.
Device used for cutting tundra soil. Yep, it’s a bread knife. Photo from cooking.com
Amanda pulls a sample of the tundra from a plot. Note the bread knife!
Each sample is measured and recorded before leaving the field. They were pretty heavy in our backpacks!
Diligently recording data under my bugshirt.
How Tough is Tundra?
Take a look at the video below as Amanda cuts a sample from one of our plots. Notice how hard it is to get the knife through the soil. Make sure you listen for the squelch of water as she pulls the sample from the ground!
Hot, Hot, Hot
After slicing through tundra in a bug shirt, rain pants, thick wool socks and heavy rain boots, we were pretty sweaty. Team Spider decided the best way to cool off was to peel off all of our layers and jump in to Toolik Lake! How many people can say they’ve been swimming in an Arctic Lake? It was chilly, but worth it!
The calm, COLD waters of Toolik Lake!