Dr. Pierre-Amaël Auger obtained his Ph.D. degree in Oceanography at the University of Toulouse III (France) in 2011. Performing physical-biogeochemical hindcast simulations, he seeks to better understand what controls the spatio-temporal dynamics of primary production, plankton communities, energy fluxes in the marine foodweb and carbon export to the deep ocean and, thus, to disentangle what drives the imprint of large-scale perturbations on marine ecosystems and matter transfers.
During his thesis (Laboratoire d'Aérologie, Toulouse, France) in the framework of the CHACCRA French ANR project and the SESAME FP6 European project, he used the Symphonie-Eco3M-S platform to explore how the zooplankton compartment influences matter fluxes in a river-influenced coastal region of the North-West (NW) Mediterranean. Moving offshore, he established how winter mixing and prey-predator interactions affect the interannual variability of primary production and key plankton functional groups in a deep convection zone. He also identified the key mechanisms driving the dynamics of vertical organic matter export in coastal and open ocean regions of the NW Mediterranean Sea, which in turn control the biogeochemical characteristics of deep waters.
Then, he did post-doctoral research (Laboratoire de Physique des Océans -- LPO -- and Laboratoire de l'Environnement MARin -- LEMAR, Brest, France) with the French Institute for Research and Development (IRD) in the framework of the EPURE French ANR project, AWA project and PREFACE FP7 European project. He used the ROMS-PISCES platform to explore how physical processes control the evolution and build-up of plankton communities, and its impact on higher trophic levels (fish in particular) in the NW African upwelling system. In order to assess the potential contamination of lower trophic levels to trace elements in the NW African upwelling, he also applied a Lagrangian approach (ARIANE) based on ROMS-PISCES outputs to carry out a comparative study of natural and anthropogenic cadmium dispersion and potential bioaccumulation in plankton communities. He is currently working on the physical-biogeochemical drivers of organic and inorganic matter transfers from the coastal upwelling to the open ocean off NW Africa, as they can play an important role in sustaining primary production in the adjacent North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. Moreover, he is dealing with the response of pelagic fish populations to the dynamics of plankton communities aiming to understand how large-scale perturbations affect migratory patterns, fish community structure and biomass. He is further interested in exploring the role of mesoscale processes in the dynamics of plankton communities, energy and matter transfers from the coast to the open ocean.
It is in the framework of these scientific interests and current activities that Dr. Auger expects to contribute to the Millennium Institute of Oceanography. He will investigate the variability of the size-class distribution of plankton biomass in relation with nutrient limitations and prey-predator interactions in the Eastern South Pacific. Model diagnostics will certainly provide valuable insight into the plankton adaptation to large-scale perturbations and changing chemistry, as in the current context of global warming. He will particularly tackle the role of mesoscale structures in constraining primary productivity and the chemical properties of water masses. The functioning of plankton ecosystems and its impact on biogeochemistry within mesoscale structures will be explored. A special focus will be placed on the mechanisms driving vertical matter fluxes with implications on global biogeochemical cycles.