Dr. Klara Wolf
What colors come to your mind when thinking of the Arctic Ocean? Blue, white – and green! Having completed my PhD at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, I have spent the past years investigating the microalgae that are the invisible base of the icy ecosystem of those Northern waters. Being the most rapidly changing region on the globe, we can here watch already the mechanisms and consequences of primary producers adapting to a warming climate. In my current DFG-funded Walter-Benjamin project ‘The heat is on’, I investigate how Arctic phytoplankton copes with marine heatwave events and how this changes their productivity and composition. The special focus of my work is to better understand the role of the different mechanisms that allow organisms to adjust – physiological acclimation, selection within populations of the same species, and finally changes in species composition. To disentangle these different levels, I employ a combination of experimental and field work to investigate the ecophysiology and genetic structure of phytoplankton populations that help them cope with the radical environmental changes already happening today.