ECOAQUA shows its scientific potential with the presentation of 8 research papers at the international symposium on zooplankton held in Tasmania

ECOAQUA shows its scientific potential with the presentation of 8 research papers at the international symposium on zooplankton held in Tasmania

Four researchers from the ECOAQUA Institute of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) recently participated in the 7th International Zooplankton Production Symposium (2024). The event was jointly organized by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), and by the University of Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP).

The event, held in Hobart, Tasmania from March 17 to 22, is the most important international quadrennial meeting on zooplankton research. This symposium brought together over 300 researchers from 38 countries, with more than 50% being young researchers dedicated to the study of zooplankton.

The structure of the event included 16 sessions and 5 workshops addressing various current topics such as assessing the impact of climate change, fishing, and pollution on zooplankton. One session, focused on Interactions between zooplankton and pollution in a changing ocean,' was co-organized by researcher “Ramón y Cajal” Rodrigo Almeda (EOMAR) along with international scientists renowned for their study of the effects of microplastics and other contaminants on zooplankton.

Dr. Almeda, who received the extraordinary end-of-degree award (Marine Biology, ULL) and the extraordinary doctoral award (Marine Sciences, UB), has worked as a research fellow in the United States and Denmark. He currently leads the research line "Plankton Ecology and Marine Pollution" at the ECOAQUA University Institute.

Researcher Inma Herrera, PhD in Marine Sciences from ULPGC and specialized in Ecology, Physiology, and Biochemistry of Zooplankton, represented the Biodiversity and Conservation (BIOCON) research group during the session on Zooplankton production in the Anthropocene. She presented the talk titled "Zooplankton community in the newly lava deltas in the Atlantic Ocean" together with Adrián Torres-Martínez, Inés Sastre-Estarellas, and Ricardo Haroun, Director of the University Institute ECOAQUA.

The work presented by Inma Herrera aimed to show the initial findings regarding the dynamics of zooplankton, a key component of the marine food web, in relation to the newly lava deltas formed in the waters of the Special Conservation Area known as the “Franja Marina de Fuencaliente”, due to the 2021 eruption on the island of La Palma, which caused a natural catastrophe. Among her conclusions, she emphasized the importance of implementing monitoring in the Canary waters to better understand and comprehension of the effects of these seismic activities, which are rapidly increasing in the Canary archipelago and significantly affecting threatened biodiversity. This emphasizes the need for more effective and efficiency management and conservation of our marine environment.

Researcher Rodrigo Almeda (EOMAR) gave two oral presentations on his recent research, titled "Crude oil induces metamorphosis in marine invertebrate planktonic larvae" and "Impact of plastic additive leachates on zooplankton" Additionally, early-career researchers Anna Cunill and Antonio Paule, under Almeda's supervision, presented their results on the impact of emerging concern plastic additives on plankton within the national project MICROPLEACH (ULPGC).

Anna Cunnil presented the "Toxicity assessment of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) on marine zooplankton" and Antonio Paule presented the "Searching for environmentally safer plastic additives using zooplankton as bioindicators”.

During the symposium, three papers published in 2024 were also presented, with Rodrigo Almeda as the principal investigator. These are detailed below.

The first is titled "How do chemical pollution and marine heatwaves affect planktonic abalone larvae?” in which Sinja Rist, Kevin Ugwu, Jessy LeDu-Carrée, Chiara Intermite, and Gercende Courtoise de Viçose, the latter from the GIA research group of ECOAQUA, also contributed. Secondly, "Behavioral responses of marine pelagic copepods to microplastics" was presented, with researchers Jiayi Xu, Rocío Rodríguez-Torres, Sinja Rist, and Torkel Nielsen. Lastly, "A mesocosm approach to evaluate the effects of microplastics from conventional plastics and bioplastics on the zooplankton community" was presented, together with Kuddithamby Gunaalan, Markus Varlund Strange, Linea Gry Ebbesen, Marta Sampalo, Jessy Le Du-Carrée, and Torkel Gissel Nielsen.

With these 8 scientific contributions, ECOAQUA strengthens the international presence and leadership role in the study of zooplankton ecology and the effects of environmental stressors (volcanic eruptions) and anthropogenic (pollution) on marine ecosystems.