The Baikal Dimensions of Diversity crew is currently on a sampling cruise aboard the Irkutsk State University vessel Kozhov (pictured below). This three day cruise has taken us from the village of Bolshie Koty to an inlet off of Lake Baikal called Maloe More.
We are busy collecting samples that will document the taxonomic, functional, and genetic diversity of Lake Baikal plankton communities. Dr. Lev Yampolski, Larry Bowman, and Mark Whitney, are collecting Baikal amphipods for a set of studies that will look at genetic diversity and temperature adaptation in these important crustaceans. The picture below shows the crew from East Tennessee State University (+ Dr. Elena Litchman) on the aft deck of the Kozhov processing some amphipods collected from Maloe More.
Meanwhile, Dr. Elena Litchman and Paul Wilburn from Michigan State University are using this opportunity to collect phytoplankton for taxonomic analyses, while Teo Nakov from the University of Texas at Austin has been collecting some samples of the diverse Diatom assemblage found here. The picture below shows Teo and Larry collecting phytoplankton samples today in Maloe More.
Kuril Chapov from Irkutsk State University has provided an enormous amount of help collecting samples and assisting the crew with ship operations. I have been representing the UC Santa Barbara group on this cruise as the offical hydrolab/chloroprobe operator and a general all-around research support person.
Tomorrow we will be collecting the endemic copepod Epischura baicalensis for experiments that are being conducted by the Wellesley College group (Dr. Ted Ozersky, Katie Wright, and Dr. Marianne Moore) back at the Baikal Biological Station. The planned experiments will test the temperature tolerances of Epischura so that we can get a better understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on this important plankton species.
Our research cruise is expected to end tomorrow night and then the real work (sample processing and running experiments) will begin!