Future Directions in Bioluminescence Research
CONCLUSIONS and RECOMMENDATIONS
- Navy Mission Areas such as Anti-Submarine Warfare, Mine Countermeasures and Inshore Warfare all would benefit from an increased capabilities to predict levels of bioluminescence in coastal waters. The information could be used in system design, operational planning and simulation, and the conduct of tactical operations.
- Technology for low light detection continues to improve, increasing the utility of using marine bioluminescence as a detection tool and conversely increasing the risk for undetected operations by friendly forces. Several generations of enhanced low light detection devices are on the open market at reasonable prices and international distribution should be assumed. New technology continues to impact this area.
- Coastal regions, worldwide, are areas of enhanced biological primary production and areas which offer the highest potential for stimulated bioluminescence during any near surface operation. There can be sufficient light to highlight moving objects in the water where dinoflagellate concentrations are 100 cells per liter. In coastal regions monitored to date, concentrations normally equal or exceed this value.
- While many marine organisms are bioluminescent when stimulated the primary near surface organisms of concern are dinoflagellates of the genera Noctiluca, Pyrocystis, Protoperidinium and Lingulodinium, and copepods of the genus Metridia.
- Databases in the coastal regions on the spatial and temporal abundance of these bioluminescent species are quite sparse. A rapid increase in operational sampling to increase data holdings is necessary to provide the data for future operational planning and development of predictive modeling.
- A new generation of small and inexpensive sensors has been developed within the past 24 months that can be used to attack this data requirement. These sensors include profiling sensors now in operational test, sensors, which mate to Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), and sensors suitable for use on moorings. Research on expendable sensors is also underway.
- No formal predictive models for bioluminescence in the coastal ocean now exist. This is a critical area for aggressive focused research. Workshop attendees identified a number of modeling approaches that should be pursued both on the near term and the long term. They recommended that near term modeling efforts using physical circulation models with bioluminescence as a passive tracer be examined to define the short-term scales of variability in energetic coastal regions
- Longer-term research to achieve biological ecosystem input to coastal modeling should be initiated now with a decade or more time horizon. This type of modeling, if found practical, would have broad utility in prediction of other ecosystem parameters that impact light, sound scattering, and have broad dual use in such areas as prediction of Harmful Algal Blooms and Fisheries.
- Participants also reviewed the basic science questions in the overall field of marine bioluminescence and identified important laboratory and fieldwork that would be needed to support predictive modeling in the future.
- Multidisciplinary efforts which couple biological and physical oceanographers with those skilled in data management, modeling, and the development of new technology will be key to progress in this field
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