"There's some evidence that the zooplankton I'll be studying actually feed on these oil droplets," says Buskey. "We want to better understand whether they do consume this oil, if so, how much of it they'll take up, whether it has a lethal or sub-lethal effect on them, and how those interactions migrate up the food web."
The grant, says MSI director Dr. Lee Fuiman, is testament to how central the institute's role has become in understanding the science of the Gulf of Mexico, and in responding to events and crises that are national or international in scope.
"We have a physical presence and a tradition of excellence in marine research longer than any other institution in Texas," says Fuiman, a professor of marine science. "We have some of the best marine facilities on the coast. We have, as they say in the restaurant business, location, location, location. We're literally on the beach. And all of our scientists are doing work that's international in reach, and they're able, as Ed has done with this project, to draw on talent worldwide to address problems that cross borders."
In addition to Buskey's project, MSI scientists are involved in one of the seven other projects that have been funded in this round of the GRI. MSI faculty have been involved in the scientific response to the Deepwater Horizon spill almost from the moment it happened.
"Texas is one of the five states that border the Gulf," says Fuiman, "and all those states, and to some extent the whole country, depends on the Gulf. If we can learn from this oil spill, we'll be better prepared for the next one."
|Contact: Dr. Ed Buskey|
University of Texas at Austin