*Please note: This is a virtual Seminar. If you would like to participate via Zoom, please contact the Seminar organizer for a link*
To break or not to break: engineering approaches to coastal ecosystems
Marine calcifiers are important parts of the marine ecosystem. Their 3D structure can provide habitats to a wide range of organisms, they can support ecosystems through the food web and they can decrease turbidity and increase light penetration through filter feeding. The 3D structure is a response to the environment in which these organisms grew and therefore may be altered by many environmental parameters. What is often overlooked is how changes to the skeleton may affect the function of the species in the ecosystem. For habitat forming marine calcifiers, like corals and coralline algae, their 3D structure and subsequently the structural integrity is vital to their ecosystem function. This talk will focus on how we can use the engineering technique Finite Element Analysis to assess structural integrity within marine calcifiers through time. Using FEA we can interrogate the effect of environmental change on the internal structure of marine calcifiers, like coralline algae, and infer the impact on ecosystem function. This includes applying FEA to the geological record to assess the alteration of ecosystem function of these key habitat builders in response to long term environmental changes during the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Ultimately, by assessing changes in the internal structure in a variety of settings, we can link changing environments to structural integrity and ultimately predict the ability of these organisms to support biodiversity under future environmental change.