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Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Josh Stone awarded a grant from the NSF

Rhizaria are large, single-celled eukaryotes and critical components of biogeochemical cycles throughout the world’s oceans. Common Rhizaria form mineral tests that have major impacts on the ocean’s strontium, silica, and carbon budgets, and they represent at least 5.2% of the total oceanic biological carbon reservoir in the photic zone. Fully understanding the community composition, biomass, and population dynamics of Rhizaria at different depths is essential to accurately modeling oceanic biogeochemical cycles. Dr. Josh Stone, assistant professor in our department, and his co-investigators Drs. Leocadio Blanco-Bercial (Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences), Kaitlin Noyes (Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences) and Jacob Cram (University of Maryland) just received a four year, $1,230,428 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a research project titled "Collaborative research: Ecological and biogeochemical role of Rhizaria in the oligotrophic ocean".  Using Niskin bottle sampling and cutting-edge in situ imaging of Rhizaria integrated with molecular identification of Rhizaria using community metabarcoding and barcoding of individual Rhizaria, this project will provide the first quantitative measurements of large Rhizaria abundance and biomass in the Sargasso Sea,  fine-scale vertical resolution of Rhizaria abundance and biomass, descriptions of temporal variation in large Rhizaria abundance and biomass, quantification of the environmental drivers of spatial and temporal patterns in Rhizaria populations, and concurrent depth-resolved biomass measurements of Rhizaria communities. Altogether, data from this project will generate invaluable information for refining models of biogeochemical cycling and food webs in oligotrophic oceanic gyres. Congrats!

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