Molecular ecology of marine and aquatic organisms
Project Manager/Lead Scientist: Bob Vrijenhoek
Lead Engineer: Gene Massion
In 2004, this project will focus on four areas.
I. Molecular population genetics and demography:
We have made remarkable progress during the past three years in elucidating genetic patterns from a variety of invertebrate animals and in inferring processes that shaped them. Our main focus during the next three years will be to compare geographical patterns of variation in the symbiotic microbes that infect these animals. Examination of host/symbiont relationships across the Guaymas Basin transect (hot vents, cold seeps, and 21°N on the EPR) will occupy most of 2004.
II. Molecular systematics:
We will continue our development of molecular phylogenies for a variety of marine organisms. The main focus will be to complete robust phylogenies of vesicomyid clams and vestimentiferan tubeworms to test evolutionary hypotheses raised in published studies.
III. A Decomposing whale carcass in Monterey Bay:
We will continue monitoring colonization and decay of a gray whale carcass in Monterey Bay using ROV Tiburon dives at three-month intervals. This project involves experts from several institutions. Gregory Rouse of the Australian National Museum, an expert in annelid systematics, is providing descriptions of several new worm species that invade decaying whalebones. Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii, an expert on whale falls, is providing isotopic measurements of carbon sources. Charlie Paull (MBARI) is interested in the contribution of whale falls to carbon inputs into Monterey Bay sediments.
IV. ESP (environmental sample processor) technology:
Genetic marker development continues for a number of alien species that have invaded Elkhorn Slough and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary region. We will continue to work closely with the ESP development team on tools for this study.