The Ecophysiology of Sea Butterflies: Understanding how environment impacts the distribution and metabolism of pteropods


Thursday, January 26, 2012
Redfield Auditorium - 12:00 Noon
Dr. Amy Maas
Postdoctoral Scholar, Biology Department, WHOI

The pelagic ecosystem is facing a number of changes due to anthropogenic forcing; in particular global warming, ocean acidification and expanding hypoxia all may strongly affect marine organisms. The consequences for pelagic ecology likely involve altered organismal physiology and shifts in species geographic and vertical distributions. Thecosome pteropods, an order of shelled planktonic mollusks, serve as an interesting group to address these questions. These aragonite-shelled snails are regionally and temporally variable, but are beginning to be understood as both ecologically important and biogeochemically significant. Work from Antarctica, the eastern tropical  North Pacific, and the eastern seaboard of the United States suggest that pteropods will respond in a species specific fashion to the predicted changes in the physical and chemical parameters of these pelagic ecosystems. While some organisms may acclimate to climate change, others likely face habitat compression, reduced fitness, and changes in biogeography.