Mountain glaciers are rapidly retreating due to climate change. Glacier shrinkage profoundly changes the proglacial landscape with cascading impacts on the geomorphology and hydrology of the various streams therein. Despite the extent of this environmental change, the impacts of glacier shrinkage on the ontogeny, structure and functioning of nascent stream ecosystems and the floodplains they form are relatively poorly understood at present. In particular microbial life, and its impacts on ecosystem evolution, structure and functioning of glacial floodplain streams remains poorly studied. Our overall aim is to unravel, at the interface of geosciences, microbial ecology and ecology, the success of the biofilm mode of life in glacial floodplain streams and its implications for the evolution of streams towards increased habitability. We combine field surveys in the Swiss Alps with experimental work, and to integrate high-resolution molecular measurements within a Microbial Systems Ecology approach and quantification of process rates to be able to map biofilms onto airborne layers of environmental information.

PhD student: Jade Brandani; EPFL Scientist: Dr. Hannes Peter; Research Techicians: Kevin Casellini; Dr. Paraskevi Pramateftaki; Dr. Nicola Deluigi; PI: Tom J. Battin; Collaboration: Prof. Stuart Lane UNIL, Prof. Mark Lever ETHZ and Prof. Paul Wilmes and Dr. Susheel Busi University of Luxembourg [This is a SNF Singergia Project]

Further information: http://p3.snf.ch/project-180241