PhD student position available in new NSF project: “Zooplankton mediation of particle flux” in collaboration with Leocadio Blanco-Bercial and Amy Maas, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

PhD student position available in new NSF project: “Zooplankton mediation of particle flux” in collaboration with Leocadio Blanco-Bercial and Amy Maas, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

What is our research all about? We will study the role that planktonic animals such as copepods, krill and diverse pelagic mollusks, salps and even protistan grazers have in particle formation in the ocean. This question is important for our understanding of the oceanic ‘biological carbon pump’, the export of dissolved and particulate organic carbon to the deep ocean, which is a significant driver of the atmospheric carbon uptake by the oceans. We will carry out this research at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) in the Sargasso Sea, a subtropical ocean time-series station in the eastern North Atlantic, and additionally conduct experiments in the laboratories at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). Zooplankton are known to play a major role in both the formation and consumption of sinking particles, mainly by their feeding activities and their production of sinking fecal pellets.     However, little is known about the roles of specific taxonomic populations. The fecal pellets also feed populations of flux feeders a few hundred meters deep that never migrate, but simply feed on the sinking particles. We hypothesize that these deep populations of flux feeders modify the sinking particles by breaking them up, eating them, and by producing their own fecal pellets, influencing the efficiency of the Biological Carbon Pump in yet unknown ways. We plan to test this hypothesis by using a special net (MOCNESS) to determine which populations are stationary or migrating. In addition, we will collect sinking particles, including fecal pellets, using drifting particle interceptor traps equipped with gel-filled cups.  Flux of different particle types collected in gel-traps and of the fecal...

Summer in the Sargasso Sea

The lab has been very busy this summer with a lot of field work and new collaborations! This last May we worked aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer, in collaboration with Dr. Amy Maas from the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences (BIOS), with the goal of studying the microbiome of zooplankton fecal pellets and the link to diel vertical migrations/circadian rhythms. We were also testing the role of zooplankton in particle formation and aggregation of Sargasso Sea plankton communities. The Neuer Lab’s role was to sample zooplankton fecal pellets all-around-the-clock, as well as perform the zooplankton-amended aggregation experiments. Check out the article on this expedition featured in The Bermudian Magazine! In June we were back aboard the R/V AE out in the Sargasso Sea to sample intact sinking particles using gel traps! The picked particles will be subjected to amplicon sequencing analyses, as well as microscopy using FISH-probes in collaboration with Dr. Rachel Parsons and the Microbial Ecology Laboratory...

The Neuer Lab goes abroad in collaboration with USAID and STRI

Neuer Lab graduate students Kassandra Dudek and Bianca Cruz have recently taken off to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Bocas Del Toro, Panama to conduct research on microplastics — a category of anthropogenic pollutants of ever-increasing concern. The focus of the research is to study the influence that marine microbial communities may have on the removal of these particles, how they may contribute to the settling of phyto- and bacterioplankton to depth, as well as microbial and UV degradation of plastics. In collaboration with Dr. Beth Polidoro, an Environmental Chemist at the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, they will also study the potential chemical pollutants adsorbed by these particles, which pose threats to the local marine food web and human societies. This research is being funded by ASU’s Global Development Research Program in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Want to learn more? Follow their research and adventures through Kassandra’s...