Current Research

North Pacific Research Board: Measuring the pulse of the Gulf of Alaska: Oceanographic observations along the Seward Line

Photo of Neocalanus flemingeriMap of oceanographic observations along the Seward Line


with R. Hopcroft, S. Danielson, K. Coyle, K. Kuletz

Start date: July 2014

Beginning in Fall 2014 we have joined the long-term monitoring effort (1998-present) focused on the Seward Line in the northern coastal Gulf of Alaska. Spring and fall cruises sample a transect extending from nearshore onto the continental slope, as well as various areas of Prince William Sound. The highly productive coastal Gulf shows large interannual variability in plankton stocks at all trophic levels. Through measurements of physics, chemistry, and lower trophic level biology, we seek to understand how changes in short- and long-term climatology influence the composition and quantity of planktonic life. Our group will be adding study of microzooplankton, as well as more detailed examination of phytoplankton communities, to this on-going effort. The planktonic communities of the deep Alaska shelf directly or indirectly support the fish, seabirds and marine mammals that are of profound economic and spiritual importance for the region.


National Science Foundation: Environmental stress and ROS-based signaling among planktonic protists

Start date: September 2014

Electron microscope photograph of Emiliania huxleyi

Dividing Ceratium fusus sampled from East Sound. Cells were stained with a fluorescent probe indicating intracellular ROS.


Environmental stress often leads to cellular oxidative stress caused by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS themselves, as well as anti-oxidants such as DMSP, have been implicated in inter- and intraspecific signaling amongst planktonic protists. We will explore the consequences of oxidative stress-based signal production for communication among marine eukaryotic microbes, including phytoplankton and heterotrophic protists. Laboratory experiments will allow controlled investigations into the linkages among stress in phytoplankton, signal production, and protist behavior. Field investigations in East Sound, a semi-enclosed fjord in the San Juan Archipelago, will look for evidence of oxidative stress and signal production in relation to changing environmental conditions. Ultimately we hope to link cellular-level stress responses to their ecological and evolutionary consequences for the interacting members of planktonic microbial communities.

North Pacific Research Board: The role of cross-shelf and along-shelf transports as controlling mechanisms for nutrients, plankton and larval fish in the coastal Gulf of Alaska

with R. Hopcroft, J. Napp, A. Matarese, C. Mordy, P. Stabeno

Start date: October 2010

Photo of deploying the CTD in the Gulf of Alaska
Deploying the CTD in the southeast Gulf of Alaska. Photo by Sophie Webb.

This field oceanography project is part of the larger Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Research Program. The program as a whole seeks to understand factors influencing the year-one survival of 5 commercially important groundfish species, including walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, arrowtooth flounder, and sablefish. For our lower trophic level component, field campaigns in multiple years are comparing physical oceanographic conditions, nutrient availability, and plankton (including larval fish) communities on the continental shelves of the eastern and western Gulf of Alaska. Our SPMC laboratory group is studying the phytoplankton and microzooplankton communities in these regions, including species composition, biomass, and the photosynthesis – irradiance response of the phytoplankton.


Page Updated 11.17.2014