Category Archives: Diversity and Biogeography

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What you Can Do With a Really Rather Realistic Ocean Model

Helen Hill | Darwin Project

It’s been a decade since the inception of the MIT Darwin Project, an alliance between physical oceanographers, biogeochemists and marine microbiologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The goal of Darwin remains to couple state of the art physical models of global ocean circulation with biogeochemistry and genome-informed models of microbial processes to understand the interplay between different elements of the marine ecosystem leading to observed balances between physiology and the marine environment. Continue reading

phytoplankton-chips

Phytoplankton & Chips

Microbes mediate the global marine cycles of elements, modulating atmospheric CO2 and helping to maintain the oxygen we all breath yet there is much about them scientists still don’t understand. Now, an award from the Simons Foundation will give researchers from the Darwin Project access to bigger, better computing resources to model these communities and probe how they work. Continue reading

By Richard A. Ingebrigtsen, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12614179

Keeping Things the Same

The elemental composition of organic matter is remarkably constant throughout the world’s oceans, but phytoplankton are known to take up nutrients and carbon in quite variable ratios depending on light and nutrient conditions.

In a paper published online in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles last month, Darwin Project researchers David Talmy (MIT), Christopher Hill (MIT), Anna Hickman (Univ. of Southampton, England), and Mick Follows (MIT), in a collaboration with Adam Martiny (Univ. of California, Irvine), report on their work  seeking to understand what ecosystem factors could cause the elemental composition of organic matter to remain stable and relatively constant (homeostatic), even when the phytoplankton can have quite variable composition. Continue reading

Dutkiewicz, S., J.J. Morris, M.J. Follows, J. Scott, O. Levitan, S.T. Dyhrman, and I. Berman-Frank, 2015, Impact of Ocean Acidification on the Structure of Future Phytoplankton CommunitiesNature Climate Change, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2722

 

Image credit: Christian Sardet, Tara Expeditions

Uncovering a Diverse Invisible Ocean World

Read this story at oceans.mit.edu

Tara Oceans, an international consortium of researchers that explored the world’s oceans in hopes of learning more about one of its smallest inhabitants, reported their initial findings this week in a special issue of Science. Plankton are vital to life on Earth—they absorb carbon dioxide, generate nearly half of the oxygen we breathe, break down waste, and are a cornerstone of the marine food chain. Now, new research indicates the diminutive creatures are not only more diverse than previously thought, but also profoundly affected by their environment. Continue reading

Villar, E., Farrant, G.K., Follows, M.J., et al, 2015, Environmental characteristics of Agulhas rings affect interocean plankton transport. Science, Vol. 348 no. 6237, doi: 10.1126/science.1261447