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Boris SAUTEREY

Post-Doc fellow in Marine Ecology — Evolutionary Ecology

Tags : marine ecology, evolutionary dynamics, plankton communities

Research interests :

Oceans are highly fluctuating and spatially structured systems. These fluctuations affect directly the characteristics of oceanic ecosystems, including those of the planktonic communities :

Dominant phytoplankton types during 1994-1998 from a high-resolution ocean and ecosystem model. Colors represent the most dominant type of phytoplankton at a given location.

 Animations : Oliver Jahn, Chris Hill, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, and Mick Follows (MIT) and the ECCO2 Project (MIT/NASA)

 

Predicting the adaptive response of planktonic communities to environmental changes (caused by natural or human induced variability of climate) is a major issue given the fact that phytoplankton are a motor of the global climate regulation and therefore participate to maintain the planet in the quite enjoyable state we experience for now. 

I study the interaction between the dynamics of plankton populations, and the dynamics of their traits, as a function of their local and global environment. In order to do so, I developed since the beginning of my PhD modelling technics aiming at simulating eco-evolutionary processes of multiple species interacting together. 

Typically, I use ocean models, from the simplest toy models to the fully spatially structure ocean circulation model (see the video above), coupled to eco-physiologicaly structured Nutrient-Phytoplankton-Zooplankton models (based on in situ and in vivo observations). I then implement adaptive processes, in order to reproduce in silico the evolutionary emergence of ecological patterns characterizing the planktonic community (e.g. : trophic network structure, trait composition).

The way trophic interactions between phytoplankton and zooplankton participate to the structure of the plankton community in term of traits is for instance one of the questions I am particularly interested in.

My work therefore links community and meta-communtiy ecology, marine ecology, and evolutionary ecology.

Few illustrations :

On the left video is depicted the modelled evolution of the size distribution (x-axis) of a phytoplankton community spatially structured in depth (y-axis) as a result of predator-prey interactions in a water column submitted to a seasonal forcing. 

 

I also work on new ways of representing the evolution of traits in ecological networks. In the video on the right is shown the evolutionary history of a trophic network, starting from few phototrophic individuals (green species) to a complexe ecological system with many predators (orange species), and mixotrophs (colors in between). The size of organisms is here depicted by their y-coordinates. (Please set the video in full screen to see anything !)