Project Action Teams (PATs) are groups of Galápagos researchers working together on a common project with the goal of creating research papers, proposals, or both.

Cocos and Carnegie Ridges

Leads: Tushar Mittal, Gabriele Gentile

Participants: Gisella Caccone, Gabriele Gentile, Sally Gibson, Kris Karnauskas, Tushar Mittal, Eric Mittelstaedt, Mark Richards, Mike Stock, Omar Torres-Carvajal, Scott White

Molecular genomic data suggest that colonization of Galapagos by Iguanas might have started from Central America and South Mexico between 4-8 Million Years Ago (Ma). This possible route for colonization contrasts with other evidence suggesting direct colonization from South America (e.g. geckos, tortoises, but see Kehlmaier et al. 2022 for possible different scenarios for tortoises). Based on our understanding of the surface currents in the past, a consensus exists that, for terrestrial organisms, the direct colonization from South America might have occurred by drifting. The alternative colonization route from Central America is not understood and available geological and climatological data are insufficient to test hypotheses related to this possibility. This PAT will address long-distance colonization of oceanic islands through now submerged volcanic stepping stones with the goal of reconciling geological, climatological, and biological inconsistencies.

Connectivity at the Ecological Scale

Leads: Robert Lamb, Jon Witman

Participants: Alexandre Fuster Calvo, Jaime Chaves, Robert Lamb, Ian Oiler, Mikell Warms, Jon Witman

Various communities and ecosystems have a range of connections in ecological time, including energy connectivity through food webs, genetic connectivity through gene flow. These interactions can cross shallow and deep marine systems, terrestrial and marine systems, and range in spatial and temporal scales. This PAT will explore these connections and seek to understand source/sink dynamics, impacts on resilience, and other factors related to ecological and evolutionary connections.

Genomics, Communities, and Colonization Histories

Leads: Christine Parent and John Phillips

Participants: Jaime Chaves, Jack Dumbacher, Alex Fuster, Lucinda Lawson, Leonie Moyle, Christine Parent, John Phillips, Andrea Sequeira, Omar Torres-Carvajal, Robert Weiss

Using data from multiple lineages from different ecological zones, this PAT will reconstruct the chronological colonization of Galapagos biota, with a focus on tracking hierarchical trophic groups. Goals include building a chronology of species arrival using phylogenetic data, assessing whether the kind of, and number of members in a trophic group increases through time, and identifying missing links in the dataset: e.g. timescales or taxa/functional groups that are missing but needed.

Mapping, Sediment Coring, and Geological Sampling of the Galápagos Platform

Leads: Mark Richards and Julia Cole

Participants: Alyssa Atwood, Julia Cole, Sally Gibson, Karen Harpp, Kris Karnauskas, Emilie Hooft, Tushar Mittal, Eric Mittelstaedt, Mark Richards, Mike Stock, Cameron Tripp

There is a need to understand the subsidence history of the platform, and the climatic implications of the platform being subareal. To that end, this PAT will characterize the temporal evolution of the height of the Galápagos Platform and quantify its impact on tropical climate variability. This PAT will conduct sediment coring, mapping of seafloor topography and sediment thickness, and geophysical data collection on Galápagos platform to address questions of climate, geologic evolution, and ecological history. The PAT will test the null hypothesis that temporal variations in the height of the Galápagos Platform have not influenced ENSO variability over paleoclimate time scales using a combination of modeling, new samples, and interpretation of paleoclimate proxy records.

Mapping the Eastern Galápagos Platform and Seamounts

Leads: Eric Mittelstaedt, Tushar Mittal

Participants: Julia Cole, Kris Karnauskas, Tushar Mittal, Eric Mittelstaedt, Mike Stock, Scott White, Jon Witman

In recognition of the critical need for quantitative reconstruction of the GA over time, which provides the base boundary conditions for understanding the biological and climate evolution of GA, this PAT aims to constrain the subsidence history of the Galápagos hotspot track through time and quantify its role in regional climate variations over millions of years. To address this goal, this PAT will conduct mapping of seafloor topography and sediment thickness, geophysical data collection and biomass mapping using mid-water modes of sonar along the portion of the Carnegie Ridge nearest the Galapagos Platform, dredging, and gravity coring of sediments. The approach of this PAT will include bathymetry, biomass measurements from mid-water multibeam, gravity cores, CTD, dredging, ocean modeling, and more.

Museum contributions to study of the Galapagos

Leads: John Dumbacher, Maria Jose Barragan

Participants: María José Barragán, Alexandre Fuster Calvo, Jaime Chaves, Jack Dumbacher, Miriam Kannan, Robert Lamb, Christine Parent, Omar Torres

Researchers working in Galapagos collect tangible materials for their research. Many collections were created as infrastructure for future research – for the purposes of describing and documenting what is present, but also to study geology, climatology, disease, evolution, ecology, morphology, health, demographics, genetics, and many other topics. This PAT will make the available material and infrastructure more accessible, build collections of today’s conditions, and be resilient to future needs. Specific activities may involve digitizing, imaging, data aggregation, and development of simple search tools and specimen finders.

Population Genomics through time

Leads: Lucinda Lawson, Robert Lamb

Participants: Lucinda Lawson, Andrea, Christine Parent, Robbie, Jaime Chaves, Gabriele Gentile, Eric Mittelstaedt

Historical effective population sizes can be inferred from genomics data and can be used to estimate the geological age and emergence history of the GA, as well as the availability and potential size of habitats required by particular species. This PAT will explore the potential of these genomics data and combine data across species to calibrate and validate estimates provided by geological and climatological data sources.

Tuff cones

Leads: Karen Harpp and Sally Gibson

Participants: Benjamin Bernard, Sally Gibson, Karen Harpp, Kris Karnauskas, Eric Mittelstaedt

Tuff cones reflect interaction of water with lava; tuff cones especially are generally formed along the coast. This PAT will fill a knowledge gap regarding relationships between volcanic features and sea level changes, generating insights into sea level changes over the last few tens of thousands of years or more, global climate change impacts, paleobiology of the archipelago, and the impact of changing sea level on individual volcanic edifices and their evolution. Data will include satellite imagery, morphometric measurements, particle size distribution, formation ages, erosion extent, information on wave-cut terraces, and biological evidence of sea level changes.

Dynamics of marine communities on shallow and deep vertical walls

Leads: Ana Belen Yanez and Jon Witman

Participants: Julia Cole, Robert Lamb, Katleen Robert, Jon Witman, Ana Belen Yanez

The complex volcanic history of the Galapagos has produced steep bathymetric gradients with ubiquitous vertical rock walls. These habitats are colonized by diverse and dynamic communities of marine invertebrates There is a need to study the linkages between them to better understand their biodiversity, persistence and resilience in the face of climate change. This PAT will address depth zonation, structural complexity and ecological diversity/processes, water flow and larval supply, deep/shallow exchange along wall, and community assembly. Techniques will include ROVs, ADCP, CTD, coral DNA, deployment of recruitment substrates and photogrammetric techniques.

Garúa, a vital water resource in a changing climate

Leads: Nicole Murray, Mikell Warms

Participants: María José Barragán, Jess Conroy, Cindy Froyd, Carolina Carrión Klier, Nicole K. Murray, Ian Oiler, Christine Parent, Mikell Warms

Garúa is an important water resource that sets key vegetation zones and habitats, is a potential human hazard. In recent decades, there is evidence that garúa is declining, with potential implications for highland habitats and wildfires. This PAT aims to understand what controls the elevation and spatial/temporal extent of the garúa, whether garúa is changing, the role of garúa in the hydrologic budget, whether it can be utilized as a freshwater resource, and more. Data will include satellite observations of SST and clouds, snails, weather station data, climate models, and more.