PMEL Ocean Molecular Ecology group seeks to leverage the advances in molecular biology to scale biological analyses with physical and chemical processes and allow for the characterization of marine ecosystems' response to climate change. We strive to achieve this through implementing our four strategic goals: 1) characterize the impacts of warming, ocean acidification, and hypoxia on West Coast and Arctic marine ecosystems, 2) advance and modernize ecosystem assessments, 3) improve ‘Omics tools, and 4) help lead the NOAA ‘Omics strategy by developing and integrating bioinformatics and data management best practices.
The PMEL Ocean Molecular Ecology group collaborated with the PMEL Earth-Ocean Interactions Program (EOI) in March-April 2023 in an ocean exploration effort to identify and describe new hydrothermal sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The expedition took place on the Schmidt Ocean Institute's new vessel the RV Falkor (too).
The group found a suite of never before documented hydrothermal vent fields. Sean McAllister, a member of Ocean Molecular Ecology, participated through the collection of environmental (e)DNA samples in transects over the sites of hydrothermal venting, ultimately providing a picture of biodiversity of microbial to macrofauna communities. Individual tissue samples were also taken to enhance reference barcode databases and improve eDNA... more
Quantitative environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches improve our ability to characterize the impacts of marine heatwaves on marine ecosystems, revealing unprecedented novel species assemblages. Work by Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), and partners revealed marked shifts in California Current Large Marine Ecosystem fish larvae communities across a 23-year time series with large changes in response to the 2014–2016 marine heatwave. The high abundances of both Northern anchovy and southern mesopelagic (i.e., more tropical) species were unique in the previous 70 years of CalCOFI surveys, suggesting that climate-associated ecosystem shifts will be... more