Calcification in Marine Invertebrates: Research and Lecture Series Utilizing the Recently Acquired Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center

Grant Winner

  • Dr. Pat Blackwelder – Oceanographic Center

Dean

  • Richard Dodge – Oceanographic Center

Abstract

A basic research program in marine invertebrate calcification, and a related collaborative lecture and hands-on labs series with the University School is proposed utilizing the recently acquired scanning electron microscope (SEM) by Nova Southeastern Oceanographic Center. SEM study of fine structure and composition of cultured and fossil marine crustacean calcified valves and coral skeletons will be conducted. In addition, SEM and biomineralization related lectures and a hands-on lab is proposed in conjunction with the University School Marine Biology and Environmental Science program. The first research study will focus on crustacean (ostracod) calcified valve fine structural variability with change in environment. By examination of fine-scale morphologic features in their shells (sieve-pores), chemical information (salinity) from the ambient environment in which they grew may be reconstructed. The second research study will be on corals and incorporation of clay sized dust particles during growth. A significant component of airborne dust in South Florida and the Caribbean is windborne from the Sahara. It is of unique composition with relatively high concentrations of titanium and iron. SEM elemental analysis for the presence of Saharan dust in dated corals ultimately may assist in determination of paleowind variability. The interdisciplinary component of this study is with the University School science program, in which lectures on electron microscopy and calcification in marine invertebrates, as well as a hands-on SEM lab will be conducted.