Population ecology of Salpa thompsoni based on molecular indicators
The proposed research targets the molecular genetics of salps, an increasingly important member of the zooplankton in Antarctic waters who's dominance appears to be related to climate warming and sea ice loss. Specifically the research will examine genome-wide patterns of gene expression, target gene expression levels, and patterns of population genetic diversity and structure underlying the complex life history and population dynamics of S. thompsoni. The P.I.s hypothesize that (1) deep analysis of the Salpa thompsoni transcriptome will reveal significant associations among selected set of differentially expressed genes and critical life history stages and events (e.g., ontogenetic maturation, sexual reproduction, senescence) of the salp; and 2) the species will show variable levels of clonal diversity and significant genetic differentiation among populations in different regions of the Southern Ocean. Broader impacts include training of two graduate students; inclusion of undergraduates in research, and in a formal training workshop; development of a summer workshop for high school teachers in collaboration with Connecticut Sea Grant; and public outreach via postings on the Census of Marine Zooplankton homepage.
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