Ace Lake: three decades of research on a meromictic, Antarctic lake

Jo Laybourn-Parry, Elanor Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Ace Lake (Vestfold Hills, Antarctica) has been investigated since the 1970s. Its close proximity to Davis Station has allowed year-long, as well as summer only, investigations. Ace Lake is a saline meromictic (permanently stratified) lake with strong physical and chemical gradients. The lake is one of the most studied lakes in continental Antarctica. Here we review the current knowledge of the history, the physical and chemical environment, community structure and functional dynamics of the mixolimnion, littoral benthic algal mats, the lower anoxic monimolimnion and the sediment within the monimolimnion. In common with other continental meromictic Antarctic lakes, Ace Lake possesses a truncated food web dominated by prokaryote and eukaryote microorganisms in the upper aerobic mixolimnion, and an anaerobic prokaryote community in the monimolimnion, where methanogenic Archaea, sulphate-reducing and sulphur-oxidizing bacteria occur. These communities are functional in winter at subzero temperatures, when mixotrophy plays an important role in survival in dominant photosynthetic eukaryotic microorganisms in the mixolimnion. The productivity of Ace Lake is comparable to other saline lakes in the Vestfold Hills, but higher than that seen in the more southerly McMurdo Dry Valley lakes. Finally we identify gaps in the current knowledge and avenues that demand further investigation, including comparisons with analogous lakes in the North Polar region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1685
Number of pages1699
JournalPolar Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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