Karissa Lear

2011 JISAO Summer Research Internship

Studying the impacts of ocean acidification on marine copepods and other zooplankton

Kariss LearThis summer I had the pleasure of interning with JISAO. I am a rising junior biology major at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. I spent my summer split between the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) working with Dr. Julie Keister and her graduate student, Greg Kowalke, as well as the ocean acidification team at NWFSC. My project this summer was on studying the impacts of ocean acidification on the marine copepod Calanus as well as other zooplankton.

Ocean acidification, or the lowering of the pH of the oceans, is caused by rising levels of CO2 in our atmosphere. When the oceans absorb CO2 it changes the chemistry of the water, lowering concentrations of important compounds such as calcium carbonate, which many animals use to build shells and exoskeletons, as well as lowering the pH. These changes can significantly affect the growth and health of many marine organisms. It was my job to start to figure out if these changes will affect the development of Calanus copepods, which are an integral part of the food web in the Puget Sound and in many other ecosystems.

To do this I ran experiments rearing copepods in water of different pH levels and monitored clutch size, hatching success, and survival rate of the copepods. During this process I gained valuable experience in learning to set up and run experiments using Karissa on research boatlive animals from start to finish, beginning with the collection of the copepods from Puget Sound, all the way through to data analysis, interpretation of results, and formulating new methods for future experiments. When I wasn’t working on my copepod experiments, I helped with some of the other projects at NWFSC investigating the effects of ocean acidification on other zooplankton such as oyster, clam and crab larvae.

Having the opportunity to participate in all aspects of designing and running an experiment was a wonderful experience for me this summer. All of the people that I worked with were incredibly supportive and helpful, and I learned a lot. It was also very exciting to be running experiments that haven’t been run before and getting new results. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been involved in this relatively new and important line of experimentation. I would like to thank JISAO and all of the people involved in making this internship a success for providing such a wonderful program!



Karissa's research poster

Click on poster for full-size image [PDF]