Evolution av Marina Alger under tidigare Klimatförändringar: Kontraster mellan Ekvator och Pol
Tidsperiod: 2012-01-01 till 2014-12-31
Projektledare: Jorijntje Henderiks
Budget: 2 700 000 SEK
Current global warming, associated with the rapid release of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels, impacts ecosystems both on land and in the ocean, most notably in polar regions. Marine phytoplankton play a fundamental role in marine ecosystems and are sensitive to climatic change. Still, we lack basic knowledge about their adaptive strategies, making it difficult to predict future ecosystem scenarios.Using coccolithophores (a prominent group of calcifying algae) as an example, this project aims to gain a better understanding of algal adaptive strategies by studying the fossil record. The fossil record uniquely allows investigating the long-term effects of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) and temperature on marine algae, in contrast to field or laboratory studies that are restricted to short time intervals. We will study deep-sea sediments from the Atlantic and Southern Oceans to reconstruct equator-to-pole gradients in phytoplankton composition and cell size during two major CO2-driven climate changes in the past: the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO), a distinct high-pCO2 and warming phase at ~40 Ma, and the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT), when pCO2 dropped and major glaciation of Antarctica occurred ~34 Ma. This project will result in a detailed picture of latitudinal biotic and climatic gradients during the MECO and EOT, and will lead to a better understanding of the relationship between climate change and phytoplankton evolutionary mechanisms and rates.