Oregon State University

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Event Details

Aaron Galloway, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon

Combining traditional and novel approaches for observing trophic relationships in nearshore subtidal coastal zones

Thursday, December 7, 2017 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Primary producers (e.g., plants and algae) play an important ecosystem service in synthesizing key organic compounds such as “essential” omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which nearshore marine heterotrophs require for growth and reproduction. The linkage between aquatic producers and consumers is essentially a ‘black box’, because primary consumers are usually too small for direct feeding observations, and the efficiency of the energy transfer from producers to consumers varies tremendously depending on food quality. This knowledge gap causes considerable uncertainty in understanding trophic relationships and thus managing ecosystems. Here I will summarize some of our recent efforts to understand trophic relationships and ecology at the base of the food web, combining old fashioned natural history (in situ observation), experimental lab feeding trials, and new-fangled trophic ‘biomarkers’, particularly fatty acids. In the talk I will summarize how fatty acids synthesized by phytoplankton and macroalgae are mostly determined by algal phylogeny, and can be traced into basal consumers to identify which resources are important for support of aquatic food webs. I’ll show that consumers also modify their dietary FA, which can confound the biomarker method if efforts are not taken to measure how organisms catabolize and transform dietary FA into somatic growth, reproduction, or storage tissues. FA molecules are still an under-appreciated carrier of information, which can help biologists unravel mysteries about behavior, ecology, and resource use by diverse consumers. I will present three recent research projects in which we are using trophic biomarkers to try to unravel mysteries associated with weird, local, natural history observations. 1) Which algae are supporting isopods? 2) What are the post-recruitment dynamics of high-density settlements of Dungeness crab? 3) What causes blue-colored flesh in lingcod?

OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center
Guin Library Seminar Room
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Sarah Henkel
sarah.henkel at oregonstate.edu
Hatfield Marine Sci Ctr
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