"The Oceans’ cryptic but beautiful life”

12 Novembre 2018
Sala d'Actes
Impartida per: 
Dr. Thomas Kiørboe
Centre for Ocean Life, DTU Aqua, Dinamarca


Marine life unfolds beneath the surface of the ocean, and the life forms – plankton - that dominate the biological processes in the ocean are microscopic and invisible. Yet, when visualized, this life demonstrates a beautiful variety of morphologies and a fascinating diversity of behaviors. While these behaviors and morphologies must be tailored to optimize the Darwinian mission that any organism is confronted with, i.e., to acquire resources, survive, and reproduce, this connection is not always obvious. This is partly because, at the scale of microscopic organisms, water appears as thick as syrup, inertia can be ignored, and flow is reversible, and hence their physical world is non-intuitive. In this lecture, I will visualize the oceans’ invisible life, explore how their morphologies and behaviors are adapted to optimize their fitness, and demonstrate how trade-offs between resource acquisition and survival shape plankton communities. A mechanistic understanding of the trade-offs pave the road for the development of trait-based models of marine ecosystems, a potentially ‘simple’ way to embrace the complexity of ecosystems and assess the effects of environmental change. The lecture will be light on physics and rich in movies such that everyone should be able to follow and enjoy.


Brief biography

Professor of Ocean Ecology at the Technical University of Denmark. Leader of Centre for Ocean Life. M.Sc. in marine Ecology, 1977, PhD. in Ecophysiology 1982, and Dr. Sc. 1988, all at University of Copenhagen. Research interests: Functional ecology of plankton; small-scale biological-physical interaction in the plankton; biological oceanography, zooplankton ecology, microbial ecology. Member of the editorial board or associate editor of various scientific journals, including Scientia Marina and Limnology and Oceanography. Elected Fellow of The Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters, The Danish Academy of Natural Sciences, and The Danish Academy for Technical Sciences, and the recipient of various national and international awards. Sabbatical stays at CSIC 2005-6), MIT (2009-10), and UC Berkeley (20013-14).