Global Plankton Genetics Project: Sampling a longitudinal transect across the Atlantic Ocean
This research is funded under the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants program (No. W119-10)
Investigators: Erica Goetze (PI).
Marine zooplankton are important mediators of the flux of energy and matter through pelagic ecosystems. They are also particularly responsive to our changing climate, and the distributions of these open ocean species are rapidly moving poleward in response to a warming ocean. Understanding the dispersal capacity of these species if therefore important to predicting their longer-term response to changing ocean conditions. This research will use a genetic approach to estimate migration rates and dispersal distances of zooplankton in the open sea. Funds from the Waitt Grants program will enable us to participate in the 2010 Atlantic Meridional Transect cruise, and sample zooplankton along a longitudinal transect across the entire Atlantic Ocean (> 90 degrees latitude). These samples will be used, in combination with existing material from the Pacific and Indian Ocean, to characterize global patterns of plankton dispersal among distinct open ocean regions. The eight planktonic copepod species targeted in this research are important players in global carbon cycles, and our results will provide critical information on the location of genetically-distinct populations in these keystone species, and on their capacity to disperse in the open sea.
Support for sampling on the AMT20 cruise (in 2010), was provided by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants program (No. W119-10). We returned to the AMT cruise in 2012 and plan to return again in 2014, with support from NSF.