One of the major challenges when modeling any system is the magnitude of the uncertainties present in the system. In oceanography, the uncertainties in biogeochemical models regarding the metazoan contribution are significantly large. Dr. Leocadio Blanco-Bercial’s research is focused on quantitatively investigating how diversity (in its many facets) is responsible for a portion of those uncertainties, and identifying how the nature of the open ocean environment shapes diversity from the surface to the deep ocean. He uses a suite of approaches to address these questions, both directly and via collaboration with other researchers. The goals of his research are to understand how diversity originates and is maintained in the open ocean, and to integrate metazoan diversity measurements into the primary ocean biogeochemical models.
Using imaging and molecular metabarcoding tools, his current projects include studying different facets of the hyper-diverse eukaryotic planktonic community at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site, as well as the vertical characterization of the planktonic community in the epi- and the mesopelagic (from surface to 1000m depth) in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. In conjunction with the BIOS-SCOPE project, this research extends into the interactions of the metazoans with the prokaryotic and protist communities in the Sargasso Sea.
Together with BIOS research specialist Tim Noyes, he has developed an eDNA protocol to track the reef fish community in Bermuda. Blanco-Bercial also works in the terrestrial environment, searching caves for ancient crustacean lineages unique to the island of Bermuda.
Blanco-Bercial is also actively engaged in teaching at BIOS (marine plankton ecology and marine invertebrate zoology) and in broader impact activities.