By: Paul Tompkins
MLML Phycology Lab
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)
After my master’s thesis was accepted in the fall of 2011, I began applying for PhD positions. I was accepted at the University of Bremen’s Center for Tropical Marine Ecology. My current advisor, Dr. Matthias Wolff, leads the resource management working group within the department of ecological modelling. He has spent many years studying the highly productive waters along the Pacific Coast of South America, and is currently leading a project in the Galapagos archipelago. The goal of this work is to understand how upwelling influences the tropic structure of the islands, and to use this understanding to inform fisheries management in the face of climate variability. My role in this project is to describe the biogeography of macroalgae around the Galapagos archipelago, and determine the functional role of these primary producers in the Galapagos marine tropic web. Of particular interest is the influence of upwelling on algal species distributions, community structure, and productivity.
I have now been in living in Puerto Ayora for two months. During my first week here, I was living on the R/V Queen Mabel, with collaborators both from ZMT and the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), and surveying the Islands of Darwin, Wolf, Pinta, and the East coast of Isabella. To estimate the percent coverage of macroalgae, I used sampling protocols were similar to those used by the CDF’s ecological monitoring project. At each site, a 50 meter transect was laid parallel to the shoreline at depths of 15 and 6 meters. Every five meters along transects, a 0.25m2 gridded quadrat with 80 intersection points was placed on the seafloor, and the primary substrate was recorded.