Everything Is Not Everywhere

Issued: Fri, 01 Nov 2019 12:59:00 GMT

Dr Sofie Spatharis standing knee deep in sea water conducting research
School of Life Sciences Animal Biology lecturer Dr Sofie Spatharis' research article 'Everything is not everywhere: can marine compartments shape phytoplankton assemblages?' was this week published by the Royal Society.
Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live by photosynthesis and moved only by currents. Traditionally, it has been thought that phytoplankton species are present all over the globe, but that local environmental conditions lead to differences in the numbers of each species between coastal areas.
In coastal areas, phytoplankton growth is strongly influenced by the nutrients that flow into the sea from the surrounding land, and this can cause some species to become dominant locally.
However, there are also differences in environmental conditions at larger geographic scales, and the extent to which they can limit the presence of phytoplankton is currently unknown.
The group's work suggests that, within the Mediterranean Sea, the phytoplankton species present depends on both local environmental conditions, and whether the water carrying them originated in the Atlantic or the Black Sea, meaning that all species are not everywhere.
First Author Dr Spatharis said: “It has been such a precious experience to contribute to the ECOGENE project, upon which this study was based, with colleagues from Greece, USA, and Glasgow. Sampling around the Aegean Islands during July was a nice bonus!”