Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 6:00 – 7:30pm

UW Science Now: Laura Newcomb: Hang on, Battered Mussels! AND Kirsten Feifel: Harmful Algal Blooms & Climate Change

Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5. Double feature!


NewcombDouble-header Part One: Between the shore’s high and low tidelines lies a habitat known as the marine intertidal, one of the harshest environments on Earth. Marine creatures living here must deal with extraordinary daily stress: exposure during low tide, and battering by high waves (and submersion!) when the tide pounds back in. These creatures have developed various mechanisms to avoid getting knocked about; mussels, for example, attach to their rocky habitat by forming byssal threads (much like a spider forms its web). However, if a wave force is stronger than the threads, the mussel will dislodge, and ultimately die. Dislodgement increases in late summer and early fall, when the byssal threads are weakest—but why do the threads weaken seasonally? Laura Newcomb, a Ph.D. student in the UW Department of Biology, explores several possible options, including seasonal changes in ocean temperature, acidity, and food availability, all consequences of ocean change. Part Two: In the Puget FeifelSound region, harmful algal blooms are commonly referred to as “red tide.” Records of red tide date back only to the 1960s, but Kirsten Feifel, a Ph.D. student in Oceanography, says a 50-year record does not provide a long-enough timeframe to infer the impacts climate change might or might not have on harmful algal-bloom populations. Using a coring device to extract sediment cores, count the cysts in the layers of the sediment, and reconstruct historical harmful algal-bloom patterns, Feifel is working to develop 100- to 200-year-long records of these blooms, comparing population patterns to changes in sea-surface temperature, rainfall, air temperature, and other large-scale sources of environmental change. Presented by Town Hall and UW’s Engage: The Science Speaker Series as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, with the University of Washington, Pacific Science Center and University Book Store. Series sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU.
Advance tickets are $5 at www.townhallseattle.org or 888/377-4510 and at the door beginning at 5:30 pm. Town Hall members receive priority seating. Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. Double feature! Your ticket to this event also gains entry to Joseph Gaydos: Incredible Animals of the Salish Sea, at 7:30 pm.

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