Life in a Turbulent Environment

Life in a Turbulent Environment: How the Dynamic Ocean Shapes the Distribution, Diversity and Growth of Microorganisms 
Workshop at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, February 19-20, 2015

Executive Summary

This two-day workshop convenes expertise from the physical, biological and ocean sciences to stimulate a multidisciplinary discussion on how the dynamics of the ocean environment shapes life — ranging from individual plankton and microbes, to their collective ecosystems. How can we scale up our understanding from micro-environments to large-scale distributions, and from individual plankton to populations? How do the growth, transformation and transport of these populations therein affect the large-scale oceanic distributions of carbon, oxygen and nutrients? How does physical variability affect biological growth and patchiness, and how are physical and biological processes coupled through multiple space- and time-scales? From turbulence to ocean eddies — how does the dynamic ocean homogenize and differentiate environments to support growth? How do bio-diversity, species-composition, and size relate to the physical environment? And importantly, what changes can we anticipate in the evolution of planktonic and microbial marine ecosystems in the future? These are some of the questions that we will tackle through a series of talks and discussions in the convivial setting of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University.

Workshop Leaders

Amala Mahadevan


Federico Toschi


David Nelson