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Mackenzie Zippay


I received my PhD from UCSB in 2009. As a graduate student in the Hofmann Lab, I was interested in the physiological tolerances of climate change on species distribution, specifically early life history stages of marine invertebrates. My research focused on measuring the impact of ocean acidification and elevated temperatures on larval marine snails. The decrease in oceanic pH has already begun to negatively impact calcifying species by decreasing the availability of calcium carbonate, making it more difficult for them to precipitate a "hard" shell. In laboratory experiments designed to mimic seawater chemistry in future oceans, we examined the effects of elevated CO2 on larvae of two marine snails, Nucella ostrina and Haliotis rufescens. Larvae from red abalone, H. rufescens, are an ideal biological indicator for environmental perturbations because the larvae develop in the water column and are exposed to environmental conditions. Nucella, on the other hand, are intertidal snails that lay egg capsules on rocks. During low tides, these egg capsules, which contain the developing embryos, are exposed to air and thus become biological living sensors of stressful thermal conditions. Following development under conditions of ocean acidification, we measured larval thermal tolerance, shell integrity and shell formation.

I am currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Oceans and Human Health program (NOAA) in the Department of Marine Biomedicine and Environmental Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina with Dr. Fran Van Dolah. Her research focuses on the functional genomics of toxic dinoflagellates and their impacts on marine animals and humans. One of my projects in Dr. Van Dolah’s lab will be investigating the effects of climate change (temperature and ocean acidification) on the growth and toxicity of Karenia brevis, the dinoflagellate responsible for Florida red tides.

Recent Publications:

Zippay, M.L. and G.E. Hofmann (2010) Physiological tolerances across latitudes: thermal sensitivity of larval marine snails (Nucella spp.). Marine Biology 157: 707-714

Zippay, M.L. and G.E. Hofmann (2010) Effect of pH on gene expression and thermal tolerance of early life history stages of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens). Journal of Shellfish Research 29: 429-439



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