Plankton, benthos and beyond: the fascinating linkage between marine invertebrate diversity and plate kinematics

15 Dicembre 2017
Sala d'Actes
Impartida por: 
Dr. Pedro Cermeño
Departament de Biologia Marina i Oceanografia, Institut de Ciències del Mar


Each day, more than a hundred million tons of carbon in the form of CO2 are fixed into organic material by marine phytoplankton. A significant fraction of this organic carbon is transferred into the deep ocean, creating a deficit of CO2 in the upper layer which is compensated by the diffusive drawdown of CO2 from the atmosphere. On geological time scales, this mechanism, referred to as the biological pump, has contributed to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels and cool the climate. After a brief overview of phytoplankton physiology and ecology, I will propose the possibility of intervening in Earth's climate by accelerating the slow natural processes through which marine phytoplankton, chiefly diatoms, contributed to ancient planetary cooling. In the second part of this presentation, I will show evidence linking the diversity dynamics of marine invertebrates through the Phanerozoic (542 million years ago - present) to plate tectonics and kinematics. This fascinating causal relationship suggests that the time elapsed between the formation and destruction of ocean basins influences the diversity dynamics of marine invertebrates and may have contributed to constrain their diversification.


Brief biography

B.S. Biology, University of Salamanca, 1998. B.S. Marine Sciences, University of Vigo, 2000. PhD. Biology, University of Vigo, 2006. I had a Ramón y Cajal contract at the ICM-CSIC (2012-2017), an appointment as a postdoctoral associate (Juan de la Cierva) at the University of Vigo (2010-2012) and a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program (Rutgers University, USA) (2006-2009). I have participated in more than 14 research projects related to marine ecology, paleoceanography and geochemistry, and in numerous oceanographic cruises. I was the principal investigator of a research project awarded by Xunta de Galicia within the program INCITE (project REFRESCO) and have coordinated 2 research projects of the Plan Nacional I+D+I (project DISTRAL and project SUAVE). I have published 48 papers in SCI journals in some of the most influential journals including Science, PNAS, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports or Ecology Letters.