WHOI Mailing Address:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
266 Woods Hole Rd.
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1050
My research interests lie at the junction of physiology, ecology and biological oceanography. I study how animals function at the extremes of environmental variables such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and temperature. Human actions are causing dramatic changes to the physical and chemical world. In particular, marine systems have been significantly impacted: the oceans are warming, becoming more acidic and depleted of oxygen. My research directly addresses the hypothesis that global change is having important effects on the physiological function and geographic distribution of important marine animal species.
I have primarily studied pteropod mollusks, a group which is believed to be especially sensitive to climate change because of their highly-soluble aragonitic shells and their prevalence in the rapidly shifting environment of the polar oceans. During my Ph.D. with Dr. Brad Seibel I worked in Antarctica and at sea in the Eastern Pacific, where oxygen is very low at mid-water depths, exploring the impacts of climate-related variables on organisms living in these extreme environments. My current research with Dr. Gareth Lawson and Dr. Ann Tarrant is focused on examining the differences between the distribution and the vulnerability of pteropods to high CO2 in the NW Atlantic and NE Pacific Oceans using both physiological and molecular tools. The hydrography of these two regions provides a natural experiment with low CO2 concentrations at depth in the Atlantic, and progressively hypercapnic conditions at depth in the Pacific as latitude increases.
Currently I am working with Dr. Lawson and Dr. Tarrant to explore the effect of CO2 on the thecosome pteropod Limacina retroversa, which is endemic to the Gulf of Maine. We are using respiration experiments, transcriptomics and studies of shell quality to determine whether there are seasonal effects on this species.