Harmful Algal Blooms: Oceanography, Ecology and Biophysical Modeling
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a perennial problem in many areas of the Philippines leading to loss in livelihood for coastal communities and even fatalities. BiOME, together with a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, are trying to understand the linkages between seasonal/climatic variability and anthropogenic stressors on the occurrence of HABs on a large-scale, as well as for specific sites. On a finer scale, the mechanisms for toxic blooms of Pyrodinium bahamense and other bloom organisms are being investigated using lab, field and modeling approaches. Ultimately, these different researches are being integrated to come up with an early-warning system for HABs.
Plankton patterns and processes in Philippine seas
Variabilities in the phytoplankton and zooplankton distributions through time and in various areas of the Philippines are being examined particularly as indicators of the environmental influence on productivity in upwelling areas, island atolls, and major oceanographic circulation features (western Pacific).
Agent-based modelling of marine ecosystems
One main approach at the BiOME lab is the use of agent-based modelling (ABM) to observe and understand the emergence of ecosystem patterns and processes from the local interactions of individual organisms. The advantages of ABM is its ability to simulate the mechanisms and processes underpinning ecological systems thereby bridging small scale observations such as life history processes and behavior with large scale patterns such as biodiversity and succession. Here at BiOME, the following ABMs have been developed: bay-specific harmful algal bloom ABM which capture the life cycle of the causative organism, shellfish toxicity and oceanographic factors; ABM of sardines to explore sources of variability of stocks and connectivity; national coral reef connectivity model.
Developing tools for rapid marine ecosystem assessment
The development of oceanography is in large part contingent on technological advancement. To gain a fuller picture of plankton dynamics and productivity in relation to environmental factors, tools that provide rapid yet fine resolution (whether in space or time) are needed. The BiOME lab is keen on developing various tools for faster quantification and/or higher resolution information on plankton and benthic abundances, as well as water quality. We are optimizing the FlowCAM for faster quantification of plankton. In collaboration with physicists, we are also developing a system for rapid coastal benthic mapping/monitoring that includes a low-cost water quality sensors.