(See the database page for major updates to the web site data and other content).
NOVEL TAXONOMIC WEB SITE EXPANDS
The "Antarctic Freshwater Diatoms" web site was expanded and updated to include regions across the Antarctic continent, as well as Subantarctic islands. In addition to the coastal oases of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, the site now includes several other continental coastal oases, the Antarctic Peninsula and Subantarctic Islands where international researchers have worked on non-marine diatoms. The current update includes the original format of linking microscope images, scanning electron micrographs, original taxonomic descriptions, species geographic distributions, species assemblage data, maps, and permanent archives but with greater geographic coverage. In the current update we also add a number of species within the genus Muelleria and Luticula, primarily from Bart Van de Vijver of the National Museum of Belgium. Later in 2010, we plan to include up to 150 more diatom species of Subantarctic regions from Van de Vijver’s work. The goal of the project is to continue to provide taxonomic treatment of freshwater diatoms of the Antarctic and Subantarctic diatoms as a primary taxonomic and ecological resource. We hope to expand both types of records by including data from international collaborators across the south polar region. We look forward to contact from diatomists and others interested in providing images and data to the site.
The "Antarctic Freshwater Diatoms" web site was featured as a 2005 Science Spotlight on the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research's web site. Below is a modified version of the spotlight text.
NOVEL TAXONOMIC WEB SITE ASSISTS ANTARCTIC ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH
Sarah Spaulding, Rhea Esposito, and David Lubinski (all at INSTAAR, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder) led a team of scientists, graduate students and undergraduate students to develop a dynamic web database, "Antarctic Freshwater Diatoms", that combines ecological data collected over more than a decade in the McMurdo Dry Valleys region. This site is part of an ongoing effort to discriminate between Antarctic species that are relatively recent invaders from those that are relicts of a warmer past. The site's database takes a technologically novel approach by linking microscope images, scanning electron micrographs, original taxonomic descriptions, species geographic distributions, species assemblage data, maps, and permanent archives. Members of the research team are continually adding new data and images; no technical web knowledge is required. The interdisciplinary effort brought collaborators and students together from the University of Colorado, INSTAAR, University of Maine, CU Math-Bio Program, NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), and NSF Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET). INSTAAR participants included Diane Mcknight and Chi Yang. The effort was principally funded by NSF's McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research program (MCMLTER) and an NSF supplement to the Niwot Ridge LTER program to encourage collaboration among undergraduates in biological sciences and mathematics departments. The site managers are planning to include diatom samples from other parts of Antarctica in the future. Although just launched in late February 2005, the site is already serving as a model for regional taxonomic databases, as an effective way to recognize and communicate species endemism and biodiversity