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Dimensions of Biodiversity In the 'Cold Galapagos' –Lake Baikal, Russia

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Monday, October 28, 2013

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This is a past event.

Marianne V. Moore
Wellesley College

Lake Baikal, the most species rich lake in the world, is an ideal natural laboratory for exploring questions related to biodiversity and for projecting future change in the biodiversity of ecosystems. Although taxonomic biodiversity per se can promote resilience to change, little is known about how the multiple different dimensions of biodiversity (e.g., genetic, functional, taxonomic) contributing to such resilience are related to each other or how they respond to environmental change. My Russian-USA team – including molecular geneticists, ecologists, and mathematical modelers – is working to determine if the genetic and functional diversity of the endemic plankton species in L. Baikal will allow them to adapt and persist in a changing climate or whether they will be replaced by widely distributed (cosmopolitan) species. Our focus on plankton biodiversity in L. Baikal and its response to contemporary climate change is motivated by the warming of this lake's surface waters (2.4°C increase in summer since 1946) and biological changes in the plankton community that are consistent with this warming. Results of our genetic analyses and functional trait measurements are being used to parameterize new mathematical models of plankton communities, allowing us to predict whether the cold-loving endemic species will be able to adapt to changing conditions or be replaced by cosmopolitan species. Such a shift would greatly alter plankton size and energy transfer, likely causing a decline in fish and the lake's unique freshwater seal. A discussion of the challenges and opportunities of pursuing international science in Russia will conclude the talk.

Host: Charles Kerfoot

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