Fulbright Scholar

Transarctic Comparison of Aquatic Microbial Diversity
(Fulbright Scholar Program)

Project Description:


          I first traveled to the Arctic in northern Alaska, USA as a postdoctoral scientist in 2000, and I was amazed at the beauty and fragility of tundra and other ecosystems associated with permafrost.  Most global climate models indicate that the Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change and will be among the first environments to experience its impacts.  My ongoing research in Alaska concerns the ecology and diversity of microbial communities in lakes, streams and soils, and seeks to forecast how changing climate will alter these communities and the critical roles they play in arctic ecosystems.  With funding from this Fulbright award I hope to accomplish two goals.  The first is to sample and explore Arctic ecosystems near Abisko Scientific Research Station in northern Sweden, and compare the results to ongoing research at Toolik Lake Field Station in arctic Alaska, which lies on the opposite side of the Arctic Circle (Fig. 1).  The second is to build long-term collaborations with an excellent team of scientists at Uppsala University whose research on microbial ecology and diversity has paralleled my own.  These scientists include Drs. Stefan Bertilsson, Eva Lindstrom, Silke Langenheder, and Lars Tranvik.


Research Objectives
          My objective is to compare microbial diversity and metacommunity dynamics at two locations on opposite sides of the Arctic Circle: Abisko, Sweden and Toolik Lake, Alaska.  My specific goals are to:

  • Sample arctic lakes and streams near Abisko Scientific Research Station for bacterial diversity, abundance, and a suite of physical and chemical measurements that parallel ongoing studies in arctic Alaska.

  • Compare species-level microbial diversity between Arctic Sweden and Arctic Alaska.  We will do this for lake, stream, hyporheic and soil-water bacteria.

  • Assess the timing and impact of spring thaw on seasonal patterns in microbial community composition in Torneträsk, a large lake near Abisko.

  • Assess spatial patterns in bacterial community composition among lakes with varying degrees of hydrological connectivity to determine the importance of dispersal in controlling diversity.

  • Abisko Scientific Research Station
    The Abisko Scientific Research Station is located on the south shore of Lake Torneträsk and near the town of Abisko (68°21'N, 18°49'E), about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle and approximately 385 m above sea level.  This station is an institution belonging to The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.  The Station's mission is: "to provide Swedish and foreign visiting scientists with the opportunity of conducting scientific work based on the particular conditions of the subartic environment surrounding the Station and also to conduct such research with its own personnel"