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Terrestrial Material in the Marine Food Web

Investigating the fate and food-web uptake of terrestrial organic matter in the coastal ocean.

Brian Hunt, Allison Oliver, Colleen Kellogg

Fate of terrestrial-derived organic matter in the near-shore marine environment: To better understand the fate of terrestrial matter in the marine environment, University of Alberta scientist Allison Oliver is using a combination of experimental and observational studies to investigate the role of specific degradation processes in modifying terrestrial DOM when it enters the marine environment. These studies will help us better understand the accessibility of terrestrial matter to marine organisms, and potential uptake routes into marine food webs.
 

From DOM to plankton – measuring the uptake of terrestrial matter by marine plankton: Under the framework of the Kwakshua Watershed Program, the Calvert Oceanographic Program, led by Brian Hunt, is investigating the significance of watershed outflows to the planktonic food web of Kwakshua channel. Our investigations follow the role of fresh water induced stratification in phytoplankton growth; the impact of terrestrial driven turbidity on light available for photosynthesis; and is applying stable isotope tracers to first identify and then quantify the contribution of terrestrial carbon and nitrogen to the planktonic food web. Ultimately, through this case study we aim to provide improved insight into the role of terrestrial-marine connections across the greater BC coast, a connection that may be strongly impacted by climate change.


Photo by Ian Giesbrecht