Response of the plankton community to changes in anthropogenic nutrients

May 15, 2018 in Current Research Projects, Featured Projects, Nitrogen

Lead Investigator: Dr. Nicole Millette
Affiliation: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Funding Source: Woods Hole Sea Grant

High inputs of nutrients, specifically nitrogen, is one of the major issues impacting Waquoit Bay and this projects ultimate goal is to help environmental managers predict how any future efforts to reduce nitrogen input could affect water quality and the entire ecosystem in the Bay. This project aims to improve our understanding of how plankton, both zooplankton and phytoplankton, in Waquoit Bay respond to changes in nutrient concentrations.

We will be tracking changes in the plankton community composition and abundance relative to shifts in nutrient concentrations to analyze how quickly changes in nutrient inputs impact Waquoit Bay. A unique aspect of this project is the added focus on mixotrophs, a type of plankton that can photosynthesize and ingest prey. Mixotrophs are a potentially large portion of the plankton community, under certain conditions, and the study of how mixotrophs respond to changes in nutrient concentrations will provide a more complete understanding of how all plankton are affected by variability in nutrients.

Nicole will join the Bay Watchers group during their planned sampling from May through September in 2018 and 2019. She plans to have some of the Bay Watchers help with the identification and enumeration of the phytoplankton samples using the WBNERR facilities.