ExtraCredit: Eric Collins

Eric Collins presented his work which examines the movement of sea ice and the flow of water through the Arctic Ocean and how this affects the microbiology of the ocean. The general movement of the water includes water moving in from the Atlantic Ocean and exiting the same place it comes in. The water from the Atlantic Ocean tends to be warmer and saltier than the Arctic waters so it comes out again colder and fresher. It takes the water a total of 25-300 years to circulate depending on the depth.  The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is pure enough to drink after it has been frozen for a few years. The most crucial part of the food chain in the ocean is phytoplankton. The general results he determined is that the Bering Sea microorganisms are much different from the Chukchi samples. He is also working on developing a system to map organisms on computer that doesn’t exclude the unclassified ones like the tree of life does.

In class, we have learned that temperature, salinity and nutrient availability all affect the ability of microorganisms to survive. Fluctuation in these factors will narrow the diversity since only microbes capable of surviving in a wider range of environments will be able to survive. The question that first came to mind is: what species of microorganisms are present? Are there any surprises that you found in the types of bacteria which were able to thrive? Does the microbe content affect any elements of the water mentioned before?

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