Response of plankton assemblages & trophodynamics to a historic, hurricane-induced floodwater plume in a subtropical, pelagic environment
December 1, 2017 – November 30, 2018
The NSF RAPID project is examining how plankton in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico respond to large floodwater plumes generated by extreme weather events like Hurricane Harvey at time scales relevant to its development and evolution (days to months). The goal is to understand how the timing, magnitude, and constituent loads of a massive pulse of freshwater to the Louisiana-Texas shelf are: (1) driving changes in phytoplankton (Stauffer, UL Lafayette & Schnezter, NC State), zooplankton (Robinson, UL Lafayette), and larval fish (Geist, TAMUCC) communities and distributions over monthly, seasonal, and annual time scales and, (2) what the consequences of those changes are to food web interactions within the plankton. The timing of Hurricane Harvey flood water disturbance coincides with the summer-fall spawning seasons for economically important Gulf of Mexico fisheries (e.g. red drum, sea trouts, snappers), raising additional questions of longer term effects of food web disruptions on recruitment.
This project will train two undergraduate students and four PhD-level graduate students across three institutions. Pre- and post-floodwater plume data and samples will be shared with the broader scientific community within one year of collection to facilitate their immediate use by scientists beyond the research team. The team will give coordinated public talks at established regional science communication series and through other existing regional outreach partnerships to extend the educational scope of the project. Finally, results from this research will be incorporated in course curriculum and shared through scientific presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Research cruise #1
Blog “Dispatches From The Field” (Stauffer Lab) & “Catching Zooplankton“
Research cruise #2
Blogs: “Back on the Boat!” & “Can’t be tired picking fish“
R2R DOI: doi:10.7284/907927
Research cruise #3
Funded by a National Science Foundation Biological Oceanography Program grant (NSF #1760704)