Antarctic Phytoplankton Rivals Charismatic Megafauna
Students and postdocs in the Rynearson lab study organisms as tiny as bacteria and as large as Antarctic krill (oh look krill).
The focus of study in the lab is predominantly diatoms (phytoplankton that generate about 40% of all primary production in the worlds oceans). Study sites include local Narrangansett Bay waters, the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Oceans - aboard the NB Palmer Icebreaker.
The Rynearson lab concentrates on understanding how plankton diversity is shaped by both ecological and evolutionary process, with a goal of assessing the impact of those processes on plankton community structure, function and productivity.
Some projects include examining the response of phytoplankton to climate change, understanding the relative roles of dispersal and natural selection in determining the structure and productivity of planktonic communities, and investigating metabolic response to nutrient stress in phytoplankton.
Pretty amazing images of Antarctic creatures of the tiniest size.
"On this Antarctic cruise, we’ll study how plankton adapt to new environments, particularly those driven by climate change. We’ll measure the genetic diversity of diatoms (a planktonic algae with key roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycles) and examine how diatoms respond to changes in water temperature and ocean acidification. This cruise is the first step in a 4 year collaborative project between oceanographers and evolutionary biologists."