URI Breakfast Lecture Explores the Effect of Climate on Plants of the Sea

Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642 lcugini@gso.uri.edu

Narragansett, R.I. — November 24, 2003 — The microscopic plants of the sea play an important role in the life of planet Earth, as they form the beginning of the food chain, and small changes in climate can affect the health of these plants and that of the oceans and even local estuaries.

How changes in climate influence phytoplankton populations is the subject of a URI Friends of Oceanography Breakfast Lecture entitled “How climate affects the plants of the sea: A look at Narragansett and Massachusetts Bays.”

The public is invited to attend the lecture on Thursday, December 4, at 9 a.m. in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett. The lecture is part of a series featuring the research of URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) students. The speaker will be biological oceanography Ph.D. candidate Kim Whitman of East Greenwich.

Warmer winter temperatures can have a negative affect on the phytoplankton populations during the important winter-spring time period. Whitman will discuss what the winter-spring phytoplankton bloom is, why it is important, and how external factors, such as climate, can have a large impact on Narragansett and Massachusetts Bays.

A native of Sullivan, Indiana, Whitman received a B.S. in biology and an M.S. in environmental and atmospheric science from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Her masters research involved characterizing the pigments in water lily leaves and remotely estimating their chlorophyll concentrations. Her current research interests include marine coastal ecology and the influence of climate on the winter-spring phytoplankton dynamics. She is working on her Ph.D. in oceanography under the guidance of biological oceanographer Dr. Candace Oviatt.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Coffee and muffins will be served. For more information, call Friends of Oceanography at (401) 874-6642.