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Why I put a pteropod in a CT scanner to study the impacts of ocean acidification

Tuesday, March 13th, 3pm EDT (12pm PDT)

Presented by: Rosie Oakes, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Tiny swimming snails, called pteropods, have delicate shells which make them vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry. Their shells are made from aragonite, a more soluble form of calcium carbonate, which is predicted to be chemically unstable in some parts of the ocean by the middle of the century. Why have I spent the last 5 years studying them? Because these tiny organisms are key to understanding the big picture of ocean acidification – the more CO2 that we put into the air, the more CO2 is taken up by the ocean, and the harder it is for pteropods to build and maintain their shells. Pteropods also play a crucial role in the marine food chain, eating phytoplankton and small zooplankton, and being eaten by krill, sea birds, and fish. This means changes that impact pteropods have the potential to impact the whole ocean ecosystem.
The challenge of studying, and communicating information about pteropods is their size. They are about the size of grain of sugar. In this webinar, I’ll discuss how I used a micro CT scanner to image pteropods in 3D so I could measure their shell thickness and volume. I will then explain how I enlarge these 3D reconstructions to print them for educational purposes, and how you can do the same. Finally, I’ll introduce my new research direction, using museum collections of pteropods to decipher how they have been affected by ocean acidification since the industrial revolution.
Please email noaa.oceanacidification@noaa.gov to request access to the video recording and slides from this presentation.

About our speaker:  A geologist by training, Rosie stumbled into the wonderful world of pteropods after finding some shells in a sediment core she was working on during her Ph.D. Since then, Rosie has spent over 200 hours CT scanning pteropods and has used a variety of other imaging techniques to learn more about how these organisms may be affected by ocean acidification.
Rosie believes that it’s important to communicate science on all levels, and so in addition to travelling to international science conferences and publishing papers, she makes time to attend school science fairs and participate in outreach events (like this one!) in a hope to inspire the next generation of scientists. Originally from the UK, Rosie is currently living in Philadelphia and working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

 

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ADAPTING TO OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:

FORECASTING

Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare

MANAGEMENT

Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally

REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

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TAKE ACTION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
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