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Dr Neil Banas


Mathematics and Statistics

Personal statement

I'm an oceanographer and mathematical ecologist, with a background in physical oceanography. My current organizing questions: first, given that climate change can push on a marine ecosystem by a dozen separate pathways simultaneously, which pathways are the crucial ones? Second, what is the role of biological complexity (diversity, adaptability, behavior, life history) in large-scale patterns in the ocean? I use a range of dynamical model methods from high-resolution, spatially explicit simulations to paper-and-pencil sketches of life history and population dynamics.


Copepod life strategy and population viability in response to prey timing and temperature : testing a new model across latitude, time, and the size spectrum
Banas Neil S., Møller Eva F., Nielsen Torkel G., Eisner Lisa B.
Frontiers in Marine Science Vol 3, pp. 1-21, (2016)
Projected impacts of 21st century climate change on diapause in Calanus finmarchicus
Wilson Robert J., Banas Neil S., Heath Michael R., Speirs Douglas C.
Global Change Biology Vol 22, pp. 3332–3340, (2016)
Traits controlling body size in copepods : separating general constraints from species-specific strategies
Banas Neil S., Campbell Robert G.
Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol 558, pp. 21-33, (2016)
Estimating behavior in a black box : how coastal oceanographic dynamics influence yearling Chinook salmon marine growth and migration behaviors
Burke Brian J., Anderson James J., Miller Jessica A., Tomaro Londi, Teel David J., Banas Neil S., Baptista António M.
Environmental Biology of Fishes Vol 99, pp. 671-686, (2016)
Spring plankton dynamics in the Eastern Bering Sea, 1971-2050 : mechanisms of interannual variability diagnosed with a numerical model
Banas Neil S., Zhang Jinlun, Campbell Robert G., Sambrotto Raymond N., Lomas Michael W., Sherr Evelyn, Sherr Barry, Ashjian Carin, Stoecker Diane, Lessard Evelyn J.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans Vol 121, pp. 1476-1501, (2016)
Present-day and future climate pathways affecting Alexandrium blooms in Puget Sound, WA, USA
Moore Stephanie K., Johnstone James A., Banas Neil S., Salathé Eric P.
Harmful Algae Vol 48, pp. 1-11, (2015)

more publications


MERHAB: An early warning system for Pseudo-nitzschia HABs on Pacific Northwest outer-coast beaches
Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Aug-2016 - 30-Jul-2021
Mechanistic understanding of the role of diatoms in the success of the Arctic Calanus complex and implications for a warmer Arctic
Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator) Heath, Michael (Co-investigator) Speirs, Douglas (Co-investigator)
"Copepod species of the genus Calanus (Calanus hereafter) are rice grain-sized crustaceans, distant relatives of crabs and lobsters, that occur throughout the Arctic Ocean consuming enormous quantities of microscopic algae (phytoplankton). These tiny animals represent the primary food source for many Arctic fish, seabirds and whales. During early spring they gorge on extensive seasonal blooms of diatoms, fat-rich phytoplankton that proliferate both beneath the sea ice and in the open ocean. This allows Calanus to rapidly obtain sufficient fat to survive during the many months of food scarcity during the Arctic winter. Diatoms also produce one of the main marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that Calanus require to successfully survive and reproduce in the frozen Arctic waters. Calanus seasonally migrate into deeper waters to save energy and reduce their losses to predation in an overwintering process called diapause that is fuelled entirely by carbon-rich fat (lipids). This vertical 'lipid pump' transfers vast quantities of carbon into the ocean's interior and ultimately represents the draw-down of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), an important process within the global carbon cycle. Continued global warming throughout the 21st century is expected to exert a strong influence on the timing, magnitude and spatial distribution of diatom productivity in the Arctic Ocean. Little is known about how Calanus will respond to these changes, making it difficult to understand how the wider Arctic ecosystem and its biogeochemistry will be affected by climate change.
The overarching goal of this proposal is to develop a predictive understanding of how Calanus in the Arctic will be affected by future climate change. We will achieve this goal through five main areas of research:

We will synthesise past datasets of Calanus in the Arctic alongside satellite-derived data on primary production. This undertaking will examine whether smaller, more temperate species have been increasingly colonising of Arctic. Furthermore, it will consider how the timing of life-cycle events may have changed over past decades and between different Arctic regions. The resulting data will be used to validate modelling efforts.

We will conduct field based experiments to examine how climate-driven changes in the quantity and omega-3 content of phytoplankton will affect crucial features of the Calanus life-cycle, including reproduction and lipid storage for diapause. Cutting-edge techniques will investigate how and why Calanus use stored fats to reproduce in the absence of food. The new understanding gained will be used to produce numerical models of Calanus' life cycle for future forecasting.

The research programme will develop life-cycle models of Calanus and simulate present day distribution patterns, the timing of life-cycle events, and the quantities of stored lipid (body condition), over large areas of the Arctic. These projections will be compared to historical data.

We will investigate how the omega-3 fatty acid content of Calanus is affected by the food environment and in turn dictates patterns of their diapause- and reproductive success. Reproductive strategies differ between the different species of Calanus and this approach provides a powerful means by which to predict how each species will be impacted, allowing us to identify the winners and losers under various scenarios of future environmental changes.

The project synthesis will draw upon previous all elements of the proposal to generate new numerical models of Calanus and how the food environment influences their reproductive strategy and hence capacity for survival in a changing Arctic Ocean. This will allow us to explore how the productivity and biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean will change in the future. These models will be interfaced with the UK's Earth System Model that directly feeds into international efforts to understand global feedbacks to climate change."
Period 01-May-2017 - 30-Apr-2021
Arctic PRoductivity in the seasonal Ice ZonE (Arctic PriZE)
Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator) McKee, David (Co-investigator)
"Arctic PRIZE will address the core objective of the Changing Arctic Ocean Program by seeking to understand and predict how change in sea ice and ocean properties will affect the large-scale ecosystem structure of the Arctic Ocean. We will investigate the seasonally and spatially varying relationship between sea ice, water column structure, light, nutrients and productivity and the roles they play in structuring energy transfer to pelagic zooplankton and benthic megafauna. We focus on the seasonal ice zone (SIZ) of the Barents Sea - a highly productive region that is undergoing considerable change in its sea ice distribution - and target the critically important but under-sampled seasonal transition from winter into the post-bloom summer period. Of critical importance is the need to develop the predictive tools necessary to assess how the Arctic ecosystems will respond to a reducing sea ice cover. This will be achieved through a combined experimental/modelling programme. The project is embedded within international Arctic networks based in Norway and Canada and coordinated with ongoing US projects in the Pacific Arctic. Through these international research networks our proposal will have a legacy of cooperation far beyond the lifetime of the funding. The project comprises five integrated work packages.

WP1 Physical Parameters: We will measure properties of the water column (temperature, salinity, turbulent fluxes, light, fluorometry) in both open water and under sea ice by deploying animal-borne tags on seals which preferentially inhabit the marginal ice zone (MIZ). We will use ocean gliders to patrol the water around the MIZ and track it as the ice retreats northwards in summer. Measurements of underwater light fields will support development of improved regional remote sensing algorithms to extend the spatial and temporal context of the proposal beyond the immediate deployment period.
WP2 Nutrient Dynamics: We will undertake an extensive program of measuring inorganic and organic nutrients, their concentrations, isotopic signatures and vertical fluxes to understand the role of vertical mixing and advection (WP1) in regulating nutrient supply to PP in the surface ocean.
WP3 Phytoplankton Production: We will investigate nutrient supply (WP2) and light availability (WP1) linked to sea ice affect the magnitude, timing, and composition of phytoplankton production, and the role of seasonal physiological plasticity. Through new numerical parameterisations - cross-tuned and validated using a rich array of observations - we will develop predictive skill related to biological production and its fate; resolve longstanding questions about the competing effects of increased light and wind mixing associated with sea ice loss; and therefore contribute to the international effort to project the functioning of Pan-Arctic ecosystems.
WP4 Zooplankton Behaviour: Zooplankton undergo vertical migrations to graze on PP at the surface. We will use acoustic instruments on moorings and AUVs, with nets and video profiles to measure the composition and behaviours of pelagic organisms in relation in light and mixing (WP1) and phytoplankton production (WP3) over the seasonal cycle of sea ice cover. The behaviours identified will be used to improve models that capture the life-history and behavioural traits of Arctic zooplankton. These models can then be used to investigate how feeding strategies of key Arctic zooplankton species may be modified during an era of reducing sea ice cover.
WP5 Benthic Community: We will use an AUV equipped with camera system to acquire imagery of the large seabed-dwelling organisms to investigate how changes in sea ice duration (WP1), timing of PP (WP3) and bentho-pelagic coupling (WP4) can modify the spatial variation in benthic community composition. We will also conduct time series-studies in an Arctic fjord using a photolander system to record the seasonally varying community response to pulses of organic matter."
Period 01-May-2017 - 30-Apr-2021
Linking Puget Sound plankton ecology to climate with a new, mid-complexity circulation model
Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Jan-2016 - 31-Dec-2018

more projects


Mathematics and Statistics
Livingstone Tower

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