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2010 Projects

Delaware Bay as model system for tracking the source, transport and activity of marine subsurface fungi

Marine sediments cover more than two thirds of the Earth’s surface and have been estimated to contain as much as one-third of Earth’s prokaryotic biomass, yet relatively little is known about this habitat, in particular of the microbial eukaryotes.

Zooplankton in a Thermohaline Staircase: Do fine-scale temperature and salinity gradients affect the distribution and abundance of zooplankton in the tropical N. Atlantic?

This Ocean Life Institute (OLI) project will enable the analysis of previously collected samples from a unique stratification regime in the thermocline of the tropical N. Atlantic. The site is within a large area of “thermohaline staircases” where temperature and salinity profiles display a remarkably regular staircase structure, with thin interfaces where temperature and salinity change rapidly alternating with well-mixed layers, 10-30 m thick, with uniform properties.

A High-Speed Time-Resolved Planar Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) System for Zooplankton Flow Field Measurements

It is proposed to develop a high-speed time-resolved planar Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system for zooplankton flow field measurements in the laboratory. The current proposal consists of a two year project to acquire and assemble the equipment and instrumentation needed to perform these measurements.

Can changes in Silver Hake be related to and forecast by changes in the Gulf Stream path?

Changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) can have effects that downscale to regional significance.

Examination of an Advanced Whale Monitoring Technique using Passive Acoustics in Cape Cod Bay

Passive acoustic listening has been shown to be very effective and environmental friendly for remotely monitoring marine mammals.

An Investigation on the Signal Processing Techniques Used by the Toothed Whales for Target Discrimination

Accurate target discrimination remains one of the outstanding challenges for human-made sonar systems.

2009 Projects

Physiological Diversity of Marine Crenarchaea

Marine Crenarchaeota comprise up to 40% of the deep ocean bacterioplankton, and by some estimates represent the most abundant cell type on the planet.

Allelopathic and Antigrazing Compounds in Marine Cyanobacteria and Dinoflagellates: Characterization, Community Effects, and Mode of Action

Cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates are cosmopolitan microbes that play critical roles in marine ecosystems, including primary production, consumption of primary production (dinoflagellates), and nitrogen fixation (cyanobacteria).

Virally-induced Cell Membrane Lipids as a Tool for the Study and Manipulation of Cell Death and Cell Immunity

Determine the exact molecular structures of two specific membrane lipids from the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi that appear in response to infection by coccolithoviruses.

Biodiversity of Cytochrome P450 Genes and Biomarkers for Coastal Pollution in Mussels

Develop molecular biomarkers for anthropogenic coastal pollution in environmentally and economically important mussels, focusing on the blue mussel Mytilus edulis (Bivalvia: Mytilinae), and on related Mytilus spp. (e.g., M. galloprovincialis).

2008 Projects

Establishing cultures of toxic dinoflagellate Dinophysis species and their prey

The dinoflagellate genus Dinophysis is of significant scientific and social importance.

Transcriptome analysis by pyrosequencing: A new tool for assessing the response of marine animals to environmental stress

Marine organisms are continually challenged by changing environmental conditions, including wide variations in temperature, pressure, salinity, oxygen tension, light, nutrient availability, or the concentrations of toxic chemicals (natural or anthropogenic).

Determination of chemical communication among epibiotic Bacteria associated with the bloom forming cyanobacteria Trichodesmium

Members of the Genus Trichodesmium are globally important nitrogen-fixing photosynthetic Bacteria that form immense blooms in oligotrophic surface waters, and affect multiple trophic levels.

Using Genetic Parentage Analysis to Measure Connectivity in a Pelagic Spawning Coral Reef Fish

Population connectivity - the degree to which spatially discrete subpopulations supply, receive, or exchange larvae - is a fundamental feature of the dynamics of marine organisms.

Krill Distribution and Patch Structure in the Deep Basins of the Gulf of Maine Based on Multi-Sensor Survey Data

Krill are common members of marine pelagic ecosystems, and in the Gulf of Maine are a key prey item for a number of predators, including whales and commercially-important fish species.

2007 Projects

Protistan diversity under the perennial Arctic ice and in the vicinity of Gakkel Ridge hydrothermal vent sites

The Gakkel Ridge vent system offers a unique opportunity to study and compare marine microbial communities with implications for both global warming and the evolution of organisms.

Operational Models for Acoustic Scattering by Marine Organisms

Sonar is being used all over the world in investigations of marine organisms. To aid in the interpretation of sonar echo signals, it is useful to be able to refer to prior data or to algorithms that predict the echo responses from marine organisms.

Development of Autonomous Broadband Acoustic Backscattering Techniques for Remote and Synoptic Zooplankton Characterization

We propose fabricating and testing an autonomous broadband acoustic backscattering system to enable the remote investigation of zooplankton distributions on ecologically relevant spatial and temporal scales. The new system will be based on a Doppler sonar module recently developed for turbulence studies.

Natural and anthropogenic influences on cold-water corals of the Chilean fjords: A historical perspective using geochemical tracers

Despite high levels of biodiversity, endemism and its complex climate and coastal morphology, the North Patagonian fjord system in southern Chile remains one of the least explored areas of the world.

Migratory Connectivity in Basking Sharks

Animal migrations represent one of nature’s most spectacular and yet mysterious phenomena. Movement patterns also have considerable biological significance, determining gene flow among geographically separated populations over ecological time scales and migratory connectivity among populations over ecological time.

2006 Projects

Understanding the Distribution of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in a Physical Oceanographic Context

Atlantic bluefin tuna populations in the western North Atlantic have declined precipitously (by ~80%) over the past 30 years due to overexploitation.

Development and Application of a Cnidarian Environmental Response Microarray for Toxicological, Developmental, and Ecological Studies

The starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is an estuarine cnidarian related to reef-building corals, and thus is important both as an evolutionary and an environmental model.

Quantification of Zooplankton Viability Using Image Analysis of Nonrigid Motion: An Approach for Automation of Critical Assays Used For Assessment of Ballast Water Treatment Technology Effectiveness

With the identification of ballast water transfer as a major pathway for introduction of invasive aquatic species within the global coastal oceans and major freshwater systems has come the technological challenge for neutralizing this pathway.

Digital Archival Tag to Study Harbor Porpoise Echolocation and Underwater Behavior

Harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are small toothed whales, which inhabit temperate and subarctic waters and use echolocation for foraging and navigation.

Niche Differentiation in Trichodesmium spp.

Members of the nitrogen fixing cyanobacterial genus Trichodesmium are capable of forming extensive blooms in the world's tropical and subtropical oceans where they contribute significantly to the cycling of C, N, P and Fe.

2005 Projects

Sponge Associated Microbial Communities: Biodiversity and Biogeochemistry

The tropical sponge Chondrillanucula harbors a variety of microbial symbionts, including photosynthetic cyanobacteria and possibly nitrifying bacteria.

An Underwater Observatory in the Liquid Jungle

Installation of an Ecosystem Observatory System at the Liquid Jungle Laboratory (EOSLJL) would provide unprecedented opportunities for scientists, educators, and students to study biological, chemical, and physical processes controlling community structure in tropical systems worldwide through tele-presence.

Environmental and Climate Impacts on Coral Productivity in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama

Geochemical measurements from decadal to century scale coral records can yield important information of how coastal ecosystems interact with and respond to the environment.

Making a Living in the Deep Sea: Enhanced Cycling of Dissolved Organic Carbon and Nitrogen by Marine Piezophiles

Enormous amounts of carbon and essential nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) are sequestered in the ocean in dissolved organic matter.

The Acoustic and Movement Dynamics of Free-ranging Norwegian Killer Whales

The behavioral complexity, global distribution and status of the killer whale (Orcinus orca) as a top predator indicate that this species plays a significant ecological role in the marine environments that it populates.

A Novel, Lipid-based Assay for Phosphorus Stress in Marine Phytoplankton

The subtropical ocean gyres are the largest biomes on earth and the plankton that dwell in these environments exert immense influence on global biogeochemical cycles and climate.

Exploratory grant for research at the Liquid Jungle Laboratory: Ascidiacea of Panama, Pacific Side

Ascidians are a growing global problem and yet, a potential asset.

Investigating Environmental Controls on Coral Calcification

Changes in surface ocean temperature and chemistry caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 pose two of the major threats to global coral reef health this century - temperature through its impact on coral-algal symbiosis and seawater carbonate chemistry through its influence on aragonite precipitation rates.

An Initial Survey of Natural Products at the Liquid Jungle

Support is requested to visit the Liquid Jungle in Panama to begin initial studies on the chemical ecology of marine natural products in the area.

2004 Projects

Sub-millimeter life positions of magnetotactic protists in reducing salt marsh sediments

Documentation of the life positions of microorganisms on the millimeter- to micron-scale can provide much information relevant to the biogeosciences.

Deuterated Tracers for DMS Dynamics in Seawater

Understanding the dynamics of dimethylsulfide and its precursor in seawater is essential to understanding a proposed feedback wherein ocean biology influences global climate.

Population limitation at the land-sea interface: do jungle derived secondary metabolites structure marine sessile communities?

Most coastal species living on the sea bottom have a two phase life cycle. Adults are large and live associated to the sea floor whereas juveniles are small and drift at the mercy of ocean currents.

New Molecular Tools to Examine Paleo-phylogeographic Responses to Climate Change: Ancient Coral Migrations in the North Atlantic

The biodiversity of seamounts and, in particular, the fragility of deep-sea coral populations has received heightened media and scientific attention in recent years.

Anthropogenic impacts on cyanobacterial diversity and secondary metabolite biosynthesis

Cyanobacteria are globally ubiquitous phototrophic bacteria that have recently been recognized as potent producers of secondary metabolites (toxins, antibiotics, etc).

2003 Projects

Studies of Gene Expression and Identification of Active Members of Hydrothermal Vent Microbial Communities: Instrument Development for In Situ Preservation of RNA in Deep-Sea Sediment Samples

Present day molecular studies of the ecology and diversity of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms in the marine environment have heavily emphasized approaches based upon quantification and sequencing of DNA.

Gene expression analysis to identify nutrient scavenging mechanisms in the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

Coccolithophores are an abundant and widespread phytoplankton functional group responsible for significant amounts of calcification in the ocean.

Albatross Demography and Conservation

Albatrosses are among the largest, longest-lived, and most fascinating birds on earth. There are 21 species: three in the North Pacific, one in the equatorial Pacific, and the rest in the Southern Ocean.

A submersible imaging-in-flow instrument to monitor nano- and microphytoplankton

Plankton account for almost all the primary productivity and a majority of the biomass in the ocean, and the structure of the microbial community determines in large part that of higher trophic levels, including the production available for human consumption.

Colonization Dynamics of Deep-Sea Coral

Large corals occur in dense aggregations on deep seamounts, providing a striking contrast to typical deep-sea communities.

Occurrence and biological activity of natural and anthropogenic organohalogen compounds in the Gulf of Maine

Halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCs) are well known contaminants of marine environments.

2002 Projects

Development of Ion Microprobe Technology for Microscale Measurement of Otolith d180

We propose to develop Ion Microprobe technology, widely used to study the chemistry of the inner earth, for application to problems in Ocean Biology.

The Impact of Copper Mining on the Biological Diversity of Macroalgae in Northern Chile

Human activities have led to drastic declines in biological diversity in terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Identification of Differentially Regulated Genes in the Red Tide Dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense using Massively Parellel Signature Sequencing (MPSS)

"Blooms" of toxic dinoflagellates from several genera result in outbreaks of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), one of the more serious of the global phenomena commonly called red tides or harmful algal blooms.

Development of Genomic Techniques for Functional Studies of Uncultured Magnetotactic Bacteria: Establishing Linkages between Physiology and Phylogeny

On earth microbes are the primary mediators of the major biogeochemical cycles (e.g., C and S). Despite their importance in global biogeochemistry the vast majority of microbes are not amenable to laboratory growth.

2001 Projects

Sensors for Velocity and Heart Rate Acquisition on Wild Marine Mammals

Marine mammals use the underwater environment for foraging, communication, and in some cases, mating, and have developed a number of adaptations to enable this.

A Computational Fluid Dynamics Study of Propulsion and Swimming Energetics of Cod Larvae

The use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to simulate the flow field around a freely swimming cod larva.

New Tools for Ocean Biology: Imaging In Flow to Improve the Resolution of Pump-During-Probe Measurements of Phytoplankton Photosynthetic Characteristics

The phytoplankton comprise thousands of species of single-celled plants ranging from cells just visible to the naked eye (a millimeter or so) down to species a million times smaller.