Zooplankton does not occur uniformly in the sea, but is distributed patchily and sometimes in large aggregations. Recently large patches (>1000 km2) of red colour along the Norwegian coast where observed by satellite, and this red colour was attributed to the small copepod Calanus finmarchicus, which is just about 3 mm in size. The observation by satellite gives us an unprecedented overview of the distribution of Calanus sp., and at the same time rises many scientific questions. A central issue is, if plankton can actually biologically aggregate, i.e. move vertically so that they form large swarms, or if the observed aggregations are due to physical factors, e.g. currents, only. Aggregative behaviour is an universal feature in a wide range of animals, which respond to the distribution of resources and predators, and also the majority of marine animals aggregate to some degree. Even among small plankton aggregations or swarms are the rule rather than the exception. This master thesis will be centered around an experiment that will use modern technology to try to answer if movement of copepods is sufficient to overcome average water current speed. Our hypothesis is that the copepods will be able to swim against vertical downwards currents, thus accumulating at the surface. The thesis is part of the international research project Sea Patches (http://seapatches.lofoten-research.no/) that investigates aggregation mechanisms of plankton.
Tasks and time frame
The experiment will be performed in spring 2019, starting with initial preparations in February. The student is expected to assist with the setup and run of the experiment. Copepods will be collected with the small boat R/V Hyas (UiT) in March and April (potentially May). Tasks involve measuring copepod velocity in tanks and perform statistical data analysis to relate copepod velocity to water flow.
If interested contact us for more information!
Dr. Sünnje L. Basedow, AMB, firstname.lastname@example.org, office C210
Dr. Nicolas Weidberge, AMB, email@example.com, office C210