In addition to surveying the region's fish, corals, sea slugs, sea urchins, and other marine invertebrates, the shallow water marine team will also investigate the diversity of microscopic algae known as zooxanthellae that live within the tissues of corals and many other marine invertebrates. Zooxanthellae not only lend their color to their hoststhey also provide significant nutrition as they photosynthesize and share the resulting glucose and amino acids. During times of environmental stress, such as the rising seawater temperatures of global climate change, hosts may lose their zooxanthellae, a condition known as bleaching. Bleached corals are a prime indicator of stressed reefs; hosts that have lost their zooxanthellae are weakened and more susceptible to disease and death. Sampling these microscopic algae as well as their hosts will allow Academy scientists to better understand zooxanthellae diversity and how it relates to their hosts' resistance to increasing water temperatures and other environmental stress.
Meanwhile, the expedition's terrestrial team will be busy surveying rainforest habitats in several different locations across Luzon Island, including forests on Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Tabayoc, and Mt. Pulag. These high-elevation peaks are home to some of the most pristine cloud forest habitat in the Philippines and provide a refuge for a great many plant and animal species. While scientists have conducted limited survey work on most of these mountains before, especially to document larger animals like birds and mammals, these regions have never been explored by a multi-disciplinary scientific team on this scale. Indeed, there is no comprehensive list of plants for any of these forests, and no surveys have ever been conducted for insects or arachnids.
The terrestrial team scientists will focus on identifying and mapping flow
|Contact: Stephanie Stone|
California Academy of Sciences