COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: INTEGRATING GEOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL, AND BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES: IMPLICATIONS FOR ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION ON THE EAST PACIFIC RISE

Project Details

Description

This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).The goal of the Integrated Studies theme of the Ridge 2000 (R2K) Program is to understand the interdependence of component linkages of the mid-ocean ridge system, including the impact of hydrothermal fluid flux on the overlying biological system. In 2003, the investigators initiated integrated multidisciplinary studies to investigate the geochemical-biological interactions, faunal succession, and microbial colonization of basalt at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Between 2004 and 2005, they conducted navigated down-looking image surveys, deployed digital time-lapse camera systems, examined habitat variability using submersible-mounted and autonomous in-situ chemical sensors, sampled microbial and macrofaunal communities in diffuse-flow vent habitats chemically characterized and occupied by different foundation species (i.e., Riftia pachyptila and Bathymodiolus thermophilus). They also designed and conducted mussel-clearance and exclusion-cage experiments to investigate the variability of vent fluid flux and chemistry in controlling ecological succession. However, on-going studies and deployed experiments were destroyed by seafloor eruption(s) in late 2005/early 2006. Through the opportunity of this eruptive event, in particular the initiation of venting and fresh lava substrates for colonization, the investigators continued their studies of the fundamental linkages and interaction of fluid chemistry, microbial communities, and macrofauna through additional photographic documentation, diverse habitat sampling, and deployment of a integrated colonization experiment. Through continued multi-disciplinary data integration, they will fully achieve their initial goals by characterizing the pre- and post-eruption environmental context of chemical, microbial and metazoan colonization over time, with the additional goal of identifying the relevant scales of integration and synthesis of our ecological observations and experiments for future investigations of community dynamics at hydrothermal vents. To maximize active interaction and integration of our multi-disciplinary data, they have coordinated their experimental design with seismologists and chemists working at the R2K EPR ISS and have focused their integrated habitat characterization, in situ chemistry, and colonization studies on discrete vent fields and regions of interest to various on-going and proposed programs. More broadly, the continued integration and synthesis of microbial, faunal, and chemical interactions will provide information that significantly advances our knowledge on the establishment, development, and maintenance of populations in patchy and ephemeral environments and will begin the process of enabling these linkages to be parameterized in models of energy and mass transfer through vent habitats and into the ocean.The research objectives fit well with the themes and current goals of the Ridge 2000 Program, and to enable others to fully integrate our datasets in other synthesis efforts, the investigators have posted their field data and will continue to upload derived data from shore-based analyses, including annual reports of diffuse fluid temperature and chemical variations, vent imagery and analysis, and preliminary results of the characterization of microbial and metazoan communities to the R2K Data Portal and participate in upcoming R2K workshops. All of the PIs are committed to involvement in educational and public outreach activities, including the mentorship of students and early-career scientists. They will continue to provide the R2K Education and Public Outreach coordinator with curriculum materials (e.g., integrative graphics and lecture presentations) for the FLEXE (From Local to EXtreme Environments) program, an innovative program formally partnered with GLOBE, a large-scale, web-based, international science education program that joins students, teachers and scientists in studying earth systems science. An additional component of our proposed effort will be supporting formal and informal education and outreach activities associated with the IMAX film Volcanoes of the Deep Sea. Over the coming years, the film will be playing at numerous IMAX theaters throughout the world and a DVD version of the film has been released and disseminated to K12 educators across the United States. The investigators understand the necessity of reaching and exciting the broader public, and envision that the results of their work will provide a powerful educational supplement to materials already designed to be an integral part of educational activities to classroom curricula throughout the United States.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/1/098/31/10

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))

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