The overall importance of planktonic organisms for a healthy ecosystem and their role as key indicators of ecosystem changes make it highly relevant to study the impact of global change on plankton ecophysiology. Phytoplankton functional traits, such as growth rate, cell size, and biochemical composition are key drivers of food web dynamics and directly affected by increasing temperature and CO2 levels, as well as by changes in dissolved nutrient concentrations.
In my PhD project, I investigate the impact of global change on intraspecific variability and diversity of phytoplankton functional traits. By changing abiotic parameters simultaneously based on IPCC reports and predicted nutrient regime shifts, I am conducting multi stressor experiments, representing realistic scenarios for the end of the 21st century. Since not only the ability to adapt but also the phenotypic plasticity of phytoplankton is of crucial importance to cope with suboptimal conditions, I combine bulk measurements with measurements on a single cell level by means of flow cytometry and Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). This project will, therefore, provide a robust understanding of how phytoplankton functional traits will be altered by global change and what the consequences for food web dynamics are.
PACES II 2: Fragile coasts and shelf sea
PACES II 2.2: Species interactions in changing and exploited coastal seas