Phytoplankton organisms are fascinating and can be considered a benefit or a nuisance for the economy. In this seminar, I will present my research at Bahía Fosforescente, where dense populations of bioluminescent phytoplankton (i.e., Pyrodinium bahamense) have made this ecosystem an important tourist attraction in Puerto Rico. However, fluctuations with non-bioluminescent dinoflagellates (i.e., Ceratium furca) have been reported. Using a high spatiotemporal resolution, I evaluated how the abundance of these species and the bioluminescence varies over monthly periods within the Caribbean dry and wet season. I found seasonal variability in the dinoflagellate composition and bioluminescence potential associated with environmental variables strongly modulated by precipitation. Thousands of potentially invasive and harmful phytoplankton are transported daily in ballast water. The U.S. Coast Guard has implemented regulations to reduce their introduction. I will also discuss how the abundance and size distribution of phytoplankton in major ports worldwide relates to current ballast water regulations.
Speaker: Brenda Soler, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
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