April 16, 2016
Two reasons why coral reef ecosystems exist: microbes and sunlight.
An interactive session led by Dr. Todd LaJeunesse
Associate professor in the Department of Biology at Penn State
Despite what many people are told, very few microbes are actually dangerous to humans. Most are essential to the survival of complex life and normal function of all ecosystems on earth. This reality is highlighted by the example of reef building corals and their exclusive dependence on symbiotic microbes, which utilize sunlight to provide nutrients for the growth and calcification of the host coral. This talk will delve into the ecological importance of these symbioses and how biodiversity in these systems may allow them to respond to major changes in earth’s climate.
Todd LaJeunesse is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Penn State. He developed a fascination with nature while growing up and working on the coast of Maine. This lead him first to Cornell University where he graduated in 1991 and later to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he completed a PhD in 2000. His research explores the ecology and evolution of mutualistic interactions involving tentacle-bearing animals (hosts)—including corals, anemones, sea fans and other invertebrates—and photosynthetic micro-algae, called zooxanthellae (symbionts). The relationship between these organisms is what sustains the planet’s coral reef ecosystems, which possess the highest diversity of marine organisms. For more information, please visit his laboratory’s website at: http://www.personal.psu.edu/tcl3/
. More information on coral symbionts is available on the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbiodinium
April 2016 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Bowling Green State University community.