Researchers and Fellows

Dr. Lorena P. Arribas

Assistant Researcher CONICET

Dr. Lorena Arribas

My research

My research is focused on marine population ecology, particularly in sea stars. My first aim is to study sea star population parameters in rocky intertidal and subtidal shores of North Patagonian gulfs and their relationship with environmental variables. A second aim is to understand how environmental parameters under future climate change scenarios will affect sea star populations. Through micro- and mesocosm experiments, I quantify the effects on the sea stars themselves and predict the effect these changes may have on associated biodiversity. I also investigate the diet of the most abundant sea star species in North Patagonian gulfs through direct observation and the analysis of stable isotopes.

Research goals
  • To study density and depth range of rocky intertidal and subtidal sea star populations of North Patagonian gulfs and their associated biodiversity.
  • To compare population structure of each species of sea star between different types of environments within and between gulfs.
  • To analyse sea star diet through direct observations and stable isotopes.
  • To study how changes in environmental variables under climate change scenarios will affect sea star populations.
Research topics

Communities are exposed to different environmental conditions such as pH, salinity and sea surface temperature which show consistent relationships with species distributions. Identifying the factors that affect species’ distributions is an important issue in ecology. Environmental conditions play an important role in organism physiology, potentially leading to changes in reproductive outcomes, growth and feeding rate. Sea stars are ideal organisms for studying the effect of environmental changes on population structure and to analyse the differences of this effect between environments (intertidal vs. subtidal), as they generally are keystone-predators, that affect community structure.

Population study of sea stars on North Patagonian gulfs: Population studies of sea stars are of great importance, both in the intertidal and subtidal, for subsequent ecological studies. I am currently quantifying the size, biomass and density of each sea star species in the rocky intertidal and subtidal of the North Patagonian gulfs. Also I am studying the incubation or fission periods, as well as the diet through in situ feeding observations and stable isotope analysis (C and N) for each species. Concurrently, a study of the biodiversity in each environment and the potential preys of each sea star species are also being analysed.

Climate change and sea star populations: Through controlled aquarium experiments, using parameter values predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), I evaluate the effect of climate change on the biology of the more abundant sea star species of the North Patagonian gulfs. Experiments in aquaria consider the effect of oceanographic variables (salinity, seawater temperature and pH) on sea star population parameters of San Matías, San Jose, Nuevo and San Jorge gulfs.

Bvd. Brown 2915 (U9120ACD)
Puerto Madryn, Chubut - Argentina
Tel.: +54 (0280) 488-3184 int 1329