Globally, levels of dissolved CO2 in seawater are increasing, termed ocean acidification (OA). Locally, levels of inorganic nitrogen are increasing due to altered land use (e.g. farming) or more intensive aquaculture. However, we know little on the interactive effects of both increasing CO2 and nitrogen on seaweeds, which form the base of coastal ecosystems. Recent work has shown for the common green seaweed, Ulva (sea lettuce) that nitrogen is more important than CO2 in controlling seaweed growth and photosynthesis (Rautenberger et al. 2015, Reidenbach et al (2017). However, Tasmania has a globally unique and highly diverse seaweed flora with over 1000 species, most of which are unstudied in terms of their physiology and response to global and local anthropogenic change. In this honours project, you will examine the interactive effects of nitrogen and CO2 fertilization on previously un-studied Tasmanian red seaweeds using a state-of-the-art ocean acidification simulator available in Hurd’s laboratory.
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.