Prof. Sergey Piontkovski (Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University) Total Proposed Cost: $324,689. Project duration: 01/15/05-01/14/07.
Core international projects dealing with the ocean have emphasized an urgent need for information on the impact of climate change on species diversity and on the development of efforts to deal with this impact. In order to assess this impact, a global database of historical plankton community composition is needed. The objective of the proposed study is to develop a plankton database of over 22,000 stations sampled during the Former Soviet Union (FSU) oceanographic expeditions. This database will contain 22 expeditions to the Atlantic Ocean and over 30 expeditions to the enclosed seas of the Atlantic Ocean, including over 30 years of sampling in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea, and the Indian Ocean. At present, there is a lack of knowledge on the interannual climate-related variability of zooplankton communities of these regions due to the absence of appropriate databases. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the dominant mode of atmospheric fluctuations over eastern North America, the northern Atlantic Ocean and Europe. Therefore, one of the issues that need to be addressed through data synthesis is the evaluation of interannual patterns in species abundance and species diversity over these regions in regard to the NAO.
The intellectual merit of this proposed activity is that for the first time ever a universal plankton database, based on FSU data previously unavailable to the scientific community, will be made readily available on the web and on compact disks. From the database created, the project team will also investigate the ecological role of the NAO in interannual variations of the abundance of key zooplankton species along the zonal array of the NAO influence (from the western side of the Atlantic Ocean to its eastern side, and through the enclosed seas of the Mediterranean basin to the Arabian Sea). In terms of the broader impacts, the data compiled will be added to the World Ocean Database, which currently has no coverage in these key regions. Future research on biodiversity on the global scale may be expected to benefit greatly from the detailed taxonomic analyses of phytoplankton and zooplankton that will comprise a major portion of the database. This database will advance the teaching of marine sciences by making available unique data collected over the 30 years. Scientific cooperation between the Stony Brook University (SBU) and the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas would contribute to the implementation phase of the US-Ukraine Economic Cooperation Agreement, which deals with scientific cooperation issues as well. Through the involvement of graduate students and consultants from various institutions, the project broadens the SBU infrastructure for research and education. It provides salary support and/or research opportunities for graduate students and research faculty.