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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Inc.
  • Leocadio Blanco-Bercial
  • (441) 297-1880
  • Amy E Maas
  • Kaitlin M Noyes
Award Date:07/13/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 407,159
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 407,159
  • FY 2020=$407,159
Start Date:09/01/2020
End Date:08/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Zooplankton mediation of particle formation in the Sargasso Sea
Federal Award ID Number:2023372
DUNS ID:875635161
Program Officer:
  • Cynthia Suchman
  • (703) 292-2092

Awardee Location

Street:17 Biological Station
City:St. George's GE01
Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Inc.
Street:17 Biological Station
City:St. Georges

Abstract at Time of Award

The purpose of this collaborative project is to advance understanding of the role of marine planktonic animals (or zooplankton) in the biological pump, or transport of carbon from surface to deeper ocean waters. This movement of carbon from surface to deep ocean water can ultimately affect carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with implications for global climate. Many marine zooplankton, including species of copepods and krill, play a direct role in the biological pump both because they are abundant and because they can migrate from surface waters at night, where they feed, to depths of more than 500 m at night. At the same time, some organisms called flux feeders will remain at depth and do not migrate. Instead, they rely on particles produced by other zooplankton feeding in surface waters. In this project, the investigators are focusing on populations of flux feeders in the deeper ocean waters of the Sargasso Sea. They are leveraging an ongoing long-term research program, conducting field collections using specialized nets and particle traps, as well lab experiments, as a way to understand how these organisms modify the particles around them. This project is supporting a postdoctoral scientist and providing research experiences for undergraduates at two institutions. An education specialist is creating lesson plans for an award-winning Ask-A-Biologist website, designed for public and K-12 audiences. Images of zooplankton will be disseminated to the public and scientific community via EcoTaxa (a web platform devoted to plankton biodiversity, with images and taxonomic annotation) and physical samples will be archived as part of a teaching library. The oceanic biological carbon pump refers to the export of dissolved and particulate organic carbon to the deep ocean, and it is a significant driver of atmospheric carbon uptake by the oceans. Evidence from long-term research carried out at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site suggests that the spectrum of particles collected by gel-traps below the euphotic zone changes drastically below 150 m, which is attributed to resident populations of zooplankton that feed on vertically migrating zooplankton as well as sinking particles. The goals of this study are to investigate the role of different zooplankton taxa on both particle aggregate formation and in particle transformation, and to compare and characterize the particles generated by the zooplankton communities with those collected by particle traps. The investigators are combining field collections with experiments onboard ship and in environmental chambers. They are collecting samples over two years, with three cruises a year to capture distinct seasons. They are assessing high-resolution vertical distribution of zooplankton in the upper 600 m using Multiple Opening-Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System (MOCNESS) tows during day- and night-time, to distinguish diel vertical migrators from resident populations and to quantify contributions to particulate organic carbon flux via fecal pellet production. On each cruise, sinking particles are being collected using gel trap tubes attached to the particle traps deployed monthly at BATS. In addition, roller tank experiments are determining how individual zooplankton mediate aggregate formation. Particle types and fecal pellets are being characterized using image analysis and DNA-based analysis of microbial communities. Finally, ongoing data collection from the long-term BATS program is providing invaluable environmental context and will ensure results from this study contribute to ongoing community efforts to observe and predict the fate of carbon in our global system. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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