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Asst Prof Adriana Lopes phytoplankton specialist on international science cruise Voyage TAN1810

14 Dec 2018

Assistant Professor Adriana Lopes was onboard the RV Tangaroa science cruise for 6 weeks as a phytoplankton specialist. As terrestrial creatures, we are all familiar with pastures and crops and how they feed animals and us as well. Plants are considered as the only base of the food web. Do you ever wonder what feeds animals in the ocean? There is an invisible crop of microscopic organisms called phytoplankton. Living in the upper 200 meters of the ocean, they virtually feed the entire marine ecosystem.
The cruise was led by NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, New Zeland) scientists in partnership with a number of international collaborators from France, USA and New Zealand sailed across a region of the Pacific Ocean called the Chatham Rise. The research onboard focused on the role of salps in the ocean carbon cycle. “Salps are “jelly-like” marine animals that are incredible grazers. While swimming, these animals pump water through a feeding filter and “eat” the phytoplankton and other particles that are present in the water. They play an important role by helping to rapidly transport large amounts of organic material, through their poop and as dead carcasses, to the deep ocean.”
Some of the questions that Assistant Professor Adriana Lopes tried to answer during this expedition where: What is the phytoplankton composition and production in these waters? How is it affected by the presence of the salps and how does it in turn affect the salp community? For this purpose she applied a range sophisticated approaches combining radio-labelled carbon uptake, flow cytometry , molecular metabarcoding and metatrascriptomics.

The photo shows cruise scientist and student members. Salp and Salp colony. RV Tangaroa track.