Group Uses Polar Worms To Track Climate Change

A group of researchers
affiliated with Colorado State University
(CSU) is hunting for worms in
Antarctica to help track our planet’s changing climate.

A research team
of seven students led by a CSU scientist has gone to the Earth's southernmost
continent for a 19th year to study roundworms.

Soil ecologist and
environmental scientist Diana Wall says
her annual studies of worms in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys help measure
climate change.

The student
team includes scholars from Brigham Young University and the University of
Waikato in New Zealand. They harvest the worms to track where they live, and
their studies help reveal clues about soil quality and the impacts of global

Dr. Wall's Antarctic
researchers will spend two months harvesting worms for much of each day, which
is facilitated by the
continent's round-the-clock sunlight this time of year.

"We talk about losing endangered species
above ground all the time," Dr. Wall told the Greeley Tribune. "We want to know
if we lose soil species, does it matter?"
Readers can follow the annual worm
hunts on one researcher's blog, The World of Nematodes.

Published: December 30, 2008