The Black Sea is a goldmine of ancient genetic data

www.eurekalert.org, 09 May 2013 09:34

When Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine paleoecologist Marco Coolen was mining through vast amounts of genetic data from the Black Sea sediment record, he was amazed about the variety of past plankton species that left behind their genetic makeup (i.e., the plankton paleome). The semi-isolated Black Sea is highly sensitive to climate driven environmental changes, and the underlying sediments represent high-resolution archives of past continental climate and concurrent hydrologic changes in the basin. The brackish Black Sea is currently receiving salty Mediterranean waters via the narrow Strait of Bosphorus as well as freshwater from rivers and via precipitation. "However, during glacial sea level lowstands, the marine connection was hindered, and the Black Sea functioned as a giant lake," says WHOI geologist Liviu Giosan.

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