East River Catchment in Crested Butte, CO
Warming of mountainous watersheds, causing decreased snow cover and earlier snowmelt is expected to reduce overland flow and increase early-season infiltration, is expected to lead to deeper transport of solutes and increased production of CO2 within the vadose zone. As part of the SFA team lead by Dr. Tetsu Tokunaga, we are studying the contribution of East River’s subsurface microbial communities to the carbon cycle. Temporal and spatial (along a hillslope gradient as well as depth resolved) metagenomics and metatranscriptomic samples are interrogated to answer this question.
The vegetation of the Upper East River watershed is representative of the Western U.S., including upland meadows, stands of aspens and conifers, and patches of sagebrush. We hypothesize there are differences in the soil metabolic potential between these vegetation types and along the longitudinal profile of the Upper East River watershed. By using genome-resolved metagenomics we aim to link above ground vegetation types to below ground soil processes. This information should enable watershed scale predictions of soil processes from the distribution of these vegetation types.