In survival situations people often talk about the rule of three. It is said that humans can only survive for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without heat, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Not wanting to be left out, it seems that some phytoplankton also obey a rule of 3 according to a new study: they can survive for 3 weeks without key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Think of an extreme environment where life survives in the ocean. What springs to mind? The mind boggling pressures and eerie quiet of the deep-sea perhaps? Maybe the icy environments at the poles? Possibly even an estuary, where organisms are flung from one salinity extreme to the other on a daily basis. There is another extreme environment though, one which few of you probably even considered, one that covers about 30% of the planet and is currently expanding under the influence of climate change: large swirling systems of rotating currents that occur in the centre of oceans known as subtropical gyres. Continue reading Ocean Deserts: it’s a hard life in the tropics, but not if you’re small
If you read my previous post on the interesting article about coccolithophore species-specific growth responses to environmental change, you may have been left wanting to know more about coccolithophores in general. I don’t blame you. Coccolithophores are pretty awesome. Continue reading Chalk talk: Coccolithophores
Some of the most progressive and interesting science happens when experts from different fields come together to tackle the same problem. Recently a group of plankton ecologists teamed up with some palaeontologists to assess how climate change impacts the growth of specific species of coccolithophores, both in modern times and during a period of warming 56 million years ago. They showed that two species of coccolithophore responded very differently to this event. Continue reading Using the past to predict the future of coccolithophores
Location: Somewhere you don’t want to live
Salary: Nowhere near enough given the ridiculous number of qualifications you have
Contract type: Full-time permanent*
Interview Date: Don’t worry, you probably won’t make this stage
*”Permanent” refers to your expected working hours on campus, NOT your job security, benefits, healthcare etc.
Dr Leigh (@Dr_Leigh) started a genius Twitter hashtag (#OverlyHonestMethods), allowing scientists to come forward and admit how they might really write those extremely dull method sections if journals gave them complete freedom to be extremely blunt. Here are Words in mOcean’s own marine science suggestions that you may have been temped to include in your papers: Continue reading Overly honest (marine science) methods
Dinoflagellates are large single-celled motile phytoplankton that are extremely widespread and abundant in the ocean. They are astonishing little creatures that – depending on the species – can produce potent neurotoxins, feast on organisms many times larger than themselves (whilst also photosynthesising), travel large distances in search of nutrients, hibernate for up to 100 years, and glow with terrific blue-coloured bioluminesence. So, without further ado, here are five reasons why dinoflagellates are friggin’ awesome: Continue reading 5 reasons why dinoflagellates are friggin’ awesome:
Most of you reading this will be very familiar with the story of how ocean acidification is likely to impact marine calcifying organisms: increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is decreasing the pH of the oceans and is proposed to eventually lead to the dissolution of the shells of organisms made from calcium carbonate. It is difficult to work out in the lab, however, exactly what the impact of ocean acidification will be on marine calcifiers, as time pressures favour experiments that only assess short-term acclimation responses of organisms to ocean acidification (rather than long-term potential adaptations). Even when long term experiments have been carried out, they have only looked at the impact of pH change alone (see here), ignoring other relevent variables such as temperature. Continue reading Calcifying plankton and climate change
Whenever I look at the iconic White Cliffs of Dover I am reminded of an interesting fact: much of the south of England is made from plankton. Yes, the chalk (calcium carbonate) found here is predominantly composed of plankton – calcifying single-celled plankton to be precise– that sunk to the sea-floor tens of millions of years ago, was compressed to form chalk, and then uplifted into its present position. The two most abundant calcifying planktonic organisms forming this chalk are the coccolithophores, which form stunning blooms visible from space, and the foraminifera (‘forams’ to their friends). Continue reading Does phosphate thin foram shells?