Tasmania has a globally unique and highly diverse seaweed flora with over 1000 species, most of which are unstudied in terms of their role in nitrogen and phosphorous cycling in the coastal environment. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient limiting seaweed growth and is available in two inorganic forms: nitrate and ammonium. Nitrate is considered an energetically ‘expensive’ form of nitrogen because it requires energy (from light) in order to take up and assimilate. Ammonium uptake is considered energetically ‘cheap’ as it is taken up by passive diffusion. To date, uptake rates of nitrogen and ammonium have been measured for only two species of seaweed in Tasmania and we know little of their uptake mechanisms. Phosphorous is an essential nutrient for seaweeds but uptake rates of phosphate have not been measured for any Tasmanian species.
In this honours project, you use laboratory experiments to measure the rates of nitrate, ammonium or phosphate uptake at a range of concentrations on previously un-studied Tasmanian red seaweeds. A number of projects on this general topic are available and would suit a student with a background in algal biology, temperate reef biology. Diving is useful but not essential.