SMAST Professor Elected VP of International Scientific Organization

SMAST's Dr. Turner has been elected Vice President of the World Association of Copepodologists. The nine hundred international scientists study the most abundant multi-cellular animals on the planet.

Dr. Jefferson T. Turner, Chancellor Professor at the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, and Chair of the Biology Department, was recently elected Vice President of the World Association of Copepodologists (WAC) for 2005-2008 at the association's triennial meeting in Tunisia. This association has a membership of more than nine hundred scientists from more than fifty countries who study copepods. 

Copepods are the most abundant multi-cellular animals on the planet. They are tiny crustaceans, relatives of shrimps and lobsters, ranging from flea-sized to the size of a grain of rice. They occur in all aquatic habitats, including the ocean, lakes and rivers, and groundwater. Copepods graze on the tiny algae that perform photosynthesis in the sea, and are in turn eaten by young or small fish. Thus, copepods are critical links in the marine food chain, and they fill the same role in the sea as insects do on land. However, since nearly three-fourths of the Earth is covered by ocean, and every liter of seawater contains at least one copepod, these animals are vastly more abundant than insects, which with few exceptions, do not occur at sea. Copepods are also important parasites on aquaculture-grown species of fish, such as salmon. 

Turner serves as Vice President of the WAC with the new President (and former Vice President) from Japan, the General Secretary from Mexico, and Executive Council members from New Zealand, Taiwan, Tunisia, France and the USA. The next meeting of the WAC will be in Thailand in 2008. 

Research by Turner and his students on copepods and other marine plankton includes studies of red tides in the Gulf of Maine; monitoring plankton communities in Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay as part of the Boston Harbor Cleanup project; long-term studies of plankton and water quality in relation to lobster habitat in Buzzards Bay; and, with Italian colleagues, studies of copepod feeding and reproductive success in relation to diets in the Adriatic Sea. Turner has been a faculty member at SMU/UMass Dartmouth, teaching biology and oceanography, since 1979. He and his family live in South Dartmouth. 


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