Marine zooplankton highlighted on symposium Biodiversity in the Open Ocean

19 December 2017

On the occasion of the PhD defence of Alice Burridge, Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the University of Amsterdam organised a one-day symposium about ocean biodiversity on 8 December 2017. The symposium brought together an exceptionally broad range of oceanographic disciplines working on plankton, providing a very inspiring insight into our current understanding of open ocean systems.

The open ocean is by far the largest habitat on Earth in which life started. Half of the world's oxygen production occurs in the oceans and marine ecosystems are crucial in the regulation of Earth’s climate and biogeochemical cycles. Our understanding of the ocean and the life it supports is, however, far from complete.

One-day symposium

The one-day symposium reviewed recent advances in the field ranging from taxonomic, genomic, and geochemical analyses of ocean biodiversity. Marine ecologists, geneticists, and biochemists presented state of the art methods and insights in marine biology. While most speakers focused on planktonic species groups, the broad context provided by the large diversity in disciplines presented, as well as perspectives coming from both fundamental and more applied research, made for an extraordinary cross-sectional view on the current state of our scientific understanding of marine systems.

Marc Ohman sketched advances in 50 years of biological oceanography, while Karen Osborn outlined insights from the planktonic fossil record. Other speakers presented new methods in integrative taxonomy, i.e. combining information from different disciplines such as genetics and morphology for species delimitation. Exciting also are the technological advances on genetics, such as high-throughput sequencing methods, that make it possible to instantly type plankton diversity in a given water sample.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad interviewed Karen Osborn when she was in the Netherlands for the symposium. 

Thesis Cover Alice Burridge

Thesis by Alice Burridge

PhD defence Alice Burridge

The symposium was organised on the occasion of the PhD defence of marine biologist Alice Burridge the day before (7 december 2017). In her research she focused on developing methods in the field of integrative taxonomy, in particular for several species of gastropods and amphipods. With her thesis “Diversity patterns of planktonic gastropods and amphipods”, Burridge contributed to the understanding of the genetic diversity and biogeography of oceanic plankton, providing baseline information that is needed to track the effects of ocean change on these species groups. Her thesis was supervised by Prof Dr Jef Huisman, Prof Dr Steph Menken and Dr Katja Peijnenburg.

Dr Alice Burridge currently works as a postdoc at the University of Amsterdam, working on the identification of several marine planktonic species groups, such as pteropods (sea butterflies), chaetognaths (arrow worms). Alice Burridge is part of Amsterdam Water Science.

Published by  IBED Water