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Las Perlas and Coiba: Panama

October-December 2020

Expedition Goals and Summary

     Recent work has suggested that the reefs of the Eastern Tropical Pacific are some of the most resilient in the world with regard to the effects of climate change, but the mechanisms by which these ecosystems tolerate and recover from such disturbances are poorly understand.. This expedition, led by Dr. David Kline and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, in collaboration with ourselves and the S/Y Acadia, had multiple objectives:

(i) to collect and characterize coral samples at reefs in both the upwelling (Las Perlas) and non-upwelling (Coiba) regions of Panama using a multi-proxy approach

(ii) to measure seawater nutrient concentrations and nitrate isotopic composition along the reefs and offshore in these two areas

(iii) to drill coral cores from both upwelling and non-upwelling areas in order to better characterize the climatic and oceanographic histories of these sites over time.

      In our lab we study the nitrogen isotopic composition of the organic matrix trapped within the coral skeletal matter to better understand how the nitrogen cycling dynamics in the upwelling and non-upwelling regions have changed over time. I led the coral drilling and seawater sampling components of this trip, with the ultimate goal of better understanding the history of these two regions over the 20th century. The expedition was a success with the collection of 13 cores, 30 Porites coral tissue/symbiont samples, 66 Pocillopora colony clippings and more than 40 seawater samples.

Expedition Summary

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