Metazoan plankton (zooplankton) are a key player in the ocean processes and cycles. Dr. Leocadio Blanco-Bercial, head of the Zooplankton Ecology Laboratory, uses classical and modern (i.e., molecular) tools to answer questions regarding the temporal and spatial pattern of population dynamics and distribution. Projects include time-series community analyses from multiple regions in the Atlantic Ocean, to large-scale phylogenetic studies of planktonic taxa.
Using molecular metabarcoding tools, present projects include the studying the hyperdiverse planktonic community at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site, as well as the vertical characterization of the planktonic community in the epi and the mesopelagic (from surface to 1000 m depth). In conjunction with the BIOS-SCOPE project, this research extends into the interactions of the metazoans with the prokaryotic and protist communities in the Sargasso.
Together with Tim Noyes, from Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Lab at BIOS, he has developed an eDNA protocol to track the reef fish community. Blanco-Bercial also works in the terrestrial environment, searching caves for ancient crustacean lineages unique to the island of Bermuda.
As part of the Census of Marine Zooplankton CMarZ team, Dr. Blanco-Bercial worked on the barcoding of planktonic copepods. Together with Ishtar Blanco-Bercial (his sister) they developed a visualization tool for the barcoding gap, MindTheGap.