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Claremont McKenna College

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Program Name

Iceland: Climate Change and The Arctic


Anthropogenic climate change has led to the retreat of glaciers globally. As glaciers melt, they expose the underlying land- termed the glacier foreland. These forelands provide a natural laboratory for studying ecological succession after a massive disturbance, which is in this case glaciation. In this study, soil invertebrates and decomposition are used as bio-indicators of the soil quality in the foreland of Sólheimajökull Outlet Glacier. Soil cores were collected from five sites (A-E) located 300m apart moving away from the glacier terminus. The abundance of each observed invertebrate taxa and the dissolved oxygen (DO) levels were taken for 30 soil samples (6 from each site). Total organism and taxa count increased in sites of increasing distance from the glacier terminus. Results showed a significantly low abundance of annelids closest to the glacier, a low abundance of nematodes farthest from the glacier (Site E), no difference in arthropods and a high abundance of rotifers at Site E. Site E also exhibited a significantly low change in dissolved oxygen. This data points to significant differences in taxa and decomposition at the location farthest from the glacier terminus and suggests a shift in the soil quality. Changes in species interactions, nutrient levels and the possibility of a retrogressive succession stage are all theories for this apparent shift.


Climate | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Glaciology | Soil Science | Zoology


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