Crossing the Atlantic: Lipid and DNA Biomarkers as Portals into the Azorean Recent.
The Azores Islands have long held a strategic position in the Atlantic, but until more recently, their contributions relating biodiversity and climate have been underexplored. Apart from a unique set of endemic flora and fauna that has escaped the reaches of biological invasion and introductions, there are a wide variety of chemically and ecologically diverse lakes and lagoons in the Azores that hold clues to past climate. In order to understand these paleoclimatic records, we need to understand the modern ecology and climate in the Azores. To supplement this, the purpose of this proposal is to: (1) Understand the modern lake and lagoon ecosystems on the Azores, and what controls changes in these environments on seasonal and annual scales. This will help us determine where and when certain biomarkers are produced, and how they reflect changes in the local ecosystems and/or the climate; (2) Examine the hydrology on these islands and how precipitation influences plant growth, changes in lakes, and lagoons; (3) Use information about the modern ecosystems combined with instrumental data to develop modern calibrations for biomarkers that can be applied to lake sediment cores to look at past changes in the Azores.