Dr. Amy Maas' research interests meet at the junction of physiology, ecology, and biological oceanography. Human actions are causing dramatic changes to the physical and chemical world. In particular, marine systems have been impacted, with warmer oceans that are increasingly acidic and depleted of oxygen. Her research addresses the hypothesis that global change is affecting the physiological function and geographic distribution of marine animal species, resulting in broader ecological impacts.
Prior to her arrival at BIOS, Maas primarily studied pteropod mollusks, a critical food source in the marine food web believed to be especially sensitive to climate change because of their easily dissolved shells and their prevalence in the rapidly shifting environment of the polar oceans. She continues to collaborate with her postdoctoral advisors Dr. Gareth Lawson and Dr. Ann Tarrant from WHOI on pteropod projects. They are working to deepen human understanding of this sensitive group using molecular tools (genomics and transcriptomics) in conjunction with respiration rate, and shell quality analyses. They aim to understand how natural seasonal variability in CO2 exposure influences sensitivity to human induced acidification, identify life history stages that are particularly vulnerable, and explore shared patterns of gene expression across pteropoda to determine how well this group can be used as indicator species of ecosystem vulnerability.
Since her arrival at BIOS, Maas has been working with the Institute’s long time series programs (OFP and BATS) to provide greater context to physiological studies of pteropods, copepods, and other zooplankton. Ongoing studies include species specific analyses of pteropod flux in the Sargasso Sea and identification of circadian patterns in zooplankton physiology. She works with Dr. Blanco Bercial on studies of zooplankton biodiversity with the goal of clarifying how the daily vertical migration of zooplankton and the specific animals in the open ocean midwater community influence biogeochemistry and ecology.
She is also a collaborator on the BIOS-SCOPE project, launched in 2015 to understand how microbes and vertical migrators interact on a daily cycle to influence each other and their local environment.