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Functional diversity in marine biogeochemistry: a combined approach using fluorescent and isotopic tracers for the quantification of silica deposition by individual diatom cells


DIATRACK aims to enable the quantification of a biogenic element flux at the individual species level and thus understand the complex nutrient control of diatom (algae) abundance and hence, the ability of marine populations to modulate global warming. The principal objective is to develop a methodology to estimate individual cellular activity among diatom species and utilisation of silicic acid by natural diatom communities. This novel application brings together isotopic methods used to quantify silicon fluxes and the use of fluorescent tracers of silica cell deposition with diatom taxonomy and image analysis. We expect our methods will become standards for assessing the variability of cell specific activities in natural communities. Our observations and experimentation will be conducted in cooperation with oceano-graphical cruises (PROOF/KEOPS, PNEC/MEDOC).

We intend to improve our understanding of phytoplankton community dynamics and provide new parameterisations for the new generation biogeochemical models (e.g. Dynamic Green Ocean Model of the Max-PlanckInstitute). DIATRACK is an innovative combination of specialty expertise from two disciplines - taxonomic ecology and isotope geochemistry, an innovation in line with multidisciplinary goals and recommendations of IMBER (Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research), JGOFS(Joint Global Ocean Flux Study), European Network of Excellence EUR-OCEANS, and CNRS PROOF (PROcessus biogeochimiques dans l'Ocean et Flux).

DIATRACK addresses a top priority in FP6: sub-priority area Global Change and ecosystems (FP6-2003-Global-2, 30 June, 2003) and will foster international co-operation within the Science and Technology Agreement signed between the European Union and Australia. DIATRACK supports the main objectives of Marie Curie Actions-develop mutually beneficial research cooperation between Europe and third countries; and respond to the needs for individual training and mobility of researchers.

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