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SciTalk: Life in the Extreme

Deep-sea Submersible
Deep-sea Worms

Join us Thursday, Feb 17th at 7pm for a SciTalk from Alissa Arp, Ph.D. entitled "Life in the Extreme: Deep-sea hydrothermal vents and other ecologically challenging marine environments".   Admission is free with a $5 suggested donation.

Vast populations of worms, clams and other invertebrate animals inhabit a variety of marine habitats where they are exposed to energy rich, but highly toxic hydrogen sulfide. In deep-sea hydrothermal vents, large colonies of the giant tube worms Riftia pachyptila survive off the chemical-based metabolism of their symbiotic bacteria.

The cold seeps habitat, on the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico, is home to expansive beds of mussels congregating around naturally seeping pools of sulfide, methane and hypersaline brine, and polychaete worms colonize mounds of frozen methane.

In our own backyard, the echiuran worm, Urechis caupo, is exposed to toxic sulfide in estuarine mudflats during low tides, yet flourishes through protective physiological adaptations in the skin and internal tissues.  The ecology of these habitats, animal adaptation strategies, as well as deep sea collection techniques and experimental methodology will be discussed.

Alissa J. Arp, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biology and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Oregon University. Dr. Arp holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California Santa Barbara and was a post-doctoral associate at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  Dr. Arp is an expert in the physiology of life in challenging environments ranging from the deep ocean floor to suburban estuaries, with discoveries recognized in internationally renowned scientific journals as well as by the national media. She has been on 8 deep-sea dives in research submersibles to over 1.5 miles in depth.


 
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