Reporting by Helen Hill for the MIT Darwin Project
The fourth Workshop on Trait-Based Approaches to Ocean Life, held August 18-21, 2019 at Chicheley Hall in Buckinghamshire in the UK was a wonderful opportunity for Darwin Group members to catch up with former colleagues while sharing current directions in marine ecology viewed through a traits lens.
Barton, A.D., B.A. Ward, R.G. Williams, and M.J. Follows (2014), The impact of fine-scale turbulence on phytoplankton community structure. Limnology and Oceanography: Fluids and Environments, 4, 34-49, doi: 10.1215/21573689-2651533
Barton, A.D., Z.V. Finkel, B.A. Ward, D.G. Johns and M.J. Follows (2013), The roles of cell size and trophic strategy in North Atlantic diatom and dinoflagellate communities. Limnology and Oceanography, 58(1), 2013, 254-266, doi: 10.4319/lo.2013.58.1.0254
Mixotrophic organisms combine autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition and are abundant in both freshwater and marine environments. Recent observations indicate that mixotrophs constitute a large fraction of the biomass, bacterivory, and primary production in oligotrophic environments. While mixotrophy allows greater flexibility in terms of resource acquisition, any advantage must be traded off against an associated increase in metabolic costs, which appear to make mixotrophs uncompetitive relative to obligate autotrophs and heterotrophs.
Ward, B.A., S. Dutkiewicz, A.D. Barton and M.J. Follows (2011), Biophysical Aspects of Resource Acquisition and Competition in Algal Mixotrophs, The American Naturalist, Vol. 178, No. 1 (July 2011), pp. 98-112, doi: 10.1086/660284
Take a look at this short student documentary by Helen Hou. The movie features MIT graduate students Andrew Barton and Sophie Clayton talking about the Darwin project.
Barton, A.D., S. Dutkiewicz, G. Flierl, J. Bragg, and M.J. Follows (2010), Response to Comment on “Patterns of Diversity in Marine Phytoplankton”, Science, 329 (5991), 512-d. doi:10.1126/science.1190048
Phytoplankton are single-celled organisms that serve as the base of the marine food web and provide half the oxygen we breathe on Earth. They also play a key role in global climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere and injecting it deep into the oceans.
Scientists study phytoplankton to understand how the tiny plants help transport elements like carbon through the environment. Although they understand much of what phytoplankton do, less is understood about why particular plankton live in particular environments and what maintains the diversity of phytoplankton.