2013-2014 Science Planning Summaries
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Ocean acidification: Pteropod swimming behavior as a bioassay for ocean acidification

Program Manager:
Dr. Charles Amsler

Event Number: B-048-P

ASC POC/Implementer:
Addie Coyac / Jamee Johnson

Dr. Jeannette Yen (Principal Investigator)

Georgia Institute of Technology
School of Biology
Atlanta, Georgia

Supporting Stations:  Palmer Station
Research Locations:  LTER Study Area / Palmer Aquarium

Project Description:
Researchers seek to develop a biological assay (bioassay) for ocean acidification based on the swimming behavior of a key sentinel of ocean acidification, thecosome pteropods (sea butterflies). Pteropods are responsible for more than 40 percent of the community grazing impact in the Southern Ocean and are capable of capturing in their mucus feeding nets 63 percent of the total zooplankton in the Ross Sea. Reduced survivorship of pteropods is likely to have a strong affect on the aquatic ecosystem. With ocean acidification, the pteropod shell will thin because the aragonite is so soluble. With a behavioral bioassay, researchers expect to see a change in the frequency of the flapping parapodia (two wing-like lobes used in swimming) and the wobble of the swimming organism. Since behavioral data can be gathered immediately, this bioassay may provide early warning of the impending onset of ocean acidification effects on this important member of the plankton.

Field Season Overview:
We plan to compare the swimming responses of temperate vs polar living specimens of Limacina helicina. We will bring our optical systems to Palmer Station and The Kings Bay Marine Station, Norway, to collect the data on living polar pteropods. Our optical system requires vibration isolation (cement floor is fine) and temperature control. It occupies a 3’x3’ x4’ (height) volume of space. Imaging from the 4 cameras will be collected digitally on a computer. Collections of live zooplankton from the R/W Gould can be made prior to coming into Palmer station along the PAL LTER 600 line (which is straight out from Palmer Station). If the RV Pt. Sur is available, collections also are possible from this coastal vessel. Specimens also have been collected using beakers from zodiacs further south in quite shallow water near Avian Island. Temperate species will be shipped overnight to us at Georgia Tech from colleagues on the west coast of the US (San Diego?mark Ohman, Santa Barbara?Alice Alldredege, Oregon?Bill Peterson).

Deploying Team Members:

  • Deepak Adhikari
  • Rajat Mittal (Co-PI)
  • Jeannette Yen (PI)

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