Western University BiologyWestern Science

The David Laudenbach Lectures

Dr. Morgan-Kiss in Anarctica

As part of the 7th Annual Biology Graduate Research Forum, the Biology Graduate Research Forum proudly presents Dr. Rachael Morgan-Kiss, as this year's David Laundebach public lecturer. She will deliver a talk entitled: "Life on the edge - survival of single-celled plants and animals in the Antartic polar desert". The public lecture will be on Thursday, October 13th, at 5:30pm in the PAB 148, Western University campus.

The Antarctic continent is a polar desert, a vast zone of low terrestrial biomass surrounded by productive ocean waters.  Life persists in isolated oases, such as the perennially ice-covered lakes located in one of the largest ice-free zones on the continent, the McMurdo Dry Valleys.  The dry valley climate is that of an extreme cold desert of <10 cm of precipitation annually and average air temperatures of -20.0 oC.  The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research program is one of 26 interdisciplinary study sites comprising a network of long-term ecological research across a broad array of ecosystems.  The lakes program is focused on understanding ecosystem structure and function of simple, vertically stratified food webs by relating long-term data collection with biological diversity. In this extreme environment, the roles of plants and animals are replaced by broadly diverse single-celled lifeforms called “protists” which are both the major producers of organic matter and the apex predators in the dry valley lake food web.  This public lecture will highlight the diverse roles and metabolic capabilities of these remarkable organisms, and discuss how their habitat is being modified by recent climatic events.

Click here for more background information about the work of Dr. Morgan-Kiss.