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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
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The Importance of Dissolved Organic Matter to Marine Invertebrates


Project Summary:

  Bryozoan Larva Video

Click to dowload a video of Bugula neritina larva (42 MB)

  Bugula neritina
  Click to dowload a video of the marine bryozoan Bugula neritina (71.4 MB)

All organisms ranging from the simplest bacterium to the most sophisticated multicellular animal need energy for metabolic maintenance, growth, and reproduction.  It is thus not surprising that a wide variety of mechanisms have evolved for acquiring the energy needed to carry out these vital processes.  One such system that has developed among aquatic organisms involves cellular transport and utilization of dissolved organic matter (DOM) directly from the surrounding medium.  My work in this area seeks to provide direct evidence on the ecological and energetic role of DOM for marine invertebrate animals through a series of laboratory and field experiments examining how the availability of DOM during larval swimming and metamorphosis effects ecological relevant parameters such as, larval swimming duration, metamorphic competence, size after metamorphosis, adult growth rate, and onset and amount of reproduction.  Our most recent results have demonstrated that the availability of DOM significantly improves the rate of survival and the size of individuals after metamorphosis for the marine bryozoan Bugula neritina.

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