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Faculty Detail


Dr. Erik Zettler


Research Professor of Oceanography

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Erik Zettler joined the Sea Education Association (SEA) in 1994. 

Erik has been a member of the Woods Hole scientific community for many years, having worked as a Research Associate in the Biology Dept. at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining SEA. He has participated on over 50 research cruises on SEA and UNOLS vessels and has done terrestrial field work in Antarctica, Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, Spain, and USA. Whenever possible, he teaches in the field including on board the SEA vessels.

Erik's research with students and colleagues in aquatic science includes the “Plastisphere” or ecology of plastic marine debris, protists (single celled organisms), extreme environments, microbial ecology, plankton community structure, biogeography, and instrumentation.

Professional Societies:

The Challenger Society for Marine Science
American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
The Oceanography Society
RVTEC-Research Vessel Technical Enhancement Committee
International Biogeography Society
International Society of Protozoologists
International Society for Microbial Ecology
Sociedade Afonso Chaves (Azorean Studies)

Scientific Publications:

2016 Mincer, T. J., Zettler, E. R. and Amaral-Zettler, L. A. “Microbial interactions with plastic marine debris” Invited contribution as a Chapter in The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Volume: Hazardous Chemicals Associated with Plastics in the Environment. Springer, Editors: Hideshige Takada and Hrissi K. Karapanagioti. DOI 10.1007/698_2016_12

2015 Amaral-Zettler, L.A., E.R. Zettler, B. Slikas, G.D. Boyd, D.W. Melvin, C.E. Morrall, G. Proskurowski,  T.J. Mincer. Biogeography of the Plastisphere: Implications for policy. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13: 541–546. doi: 10.1890/150017.

2015 Deary, A.L., S. Moret-Ferguson, M. Engels, E. Zettler, G. Jaroslow, and G.Sancho. Influence of Central Pacific oceanographic conditions on the potential vertical habitat of four tropical tuna species. Pacific Science 69(4): 461–475, doi:10.2984/69.4.3

2014 V. Schmidt, V.T., J. Reveillaud, E. Zettler, T.J. Mincer, L. Murphy and L.A. Amaral-Zettler Oligotyping reveals community level habitat selection within the genus Vibrio. Front. Microbiol., DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00563

2014 Law, K.L., S. Moreìt-Ferguson, D. Goodwin, E. Zettler, E. DeForce, T. Kukulka, and G. Proskurowski. Distribution of surface plastic debris in the eastern Pacific Ocean from an 11-year data set. Env.Sci. & Technol.: DOI: 10.1021/es4053076

2014 Engels, M., L. Correia, S. Piwinski, L. Cheng, and E. Zettler. Seasonal and decadal changes in distribution patterns of Halobates (Hemiptera: Gerridae) populations in the eastern tropical Pacific. Marine Biology.: DOI: 10.1007/s00227-014-2414-x

2013 Zettler, E.R., T.J. Mincer, and L.A. Amaral-Zettler. Life in the “Plastisphere”: Microbial communities on plastic marine debris. Env.Sci.&Tech.: DOI: 10.1021/es401288x

2011 Hirai H.,  H. Takada, Y. Ogata, R. Yamashita, K. Mizukawa, M. Saha, C. Kwan, C. Moore, H. Gray, D. Laursen, E.R. Zettler, J.W. Farrington, C.M. Reddy, E. E. Peacock, M.W. Ward. Organic micropollutants in marine plastics debris from the open ocean and remote and urban beaches. Mar.Poll.Bull. 62: 1683-1692.

2011 Nuzzio, D., E.R. Zettler, A. Aguilera, and Amaral-Zettler, L.A. A direct in situ fingerprinting method for acid rock drainage using voltammetric techniques with a single renewable gold microelectrode. Science of the Total Environment 409: 1984–1989.

2010 Amaral-Zettler, L.A., E.R. Zettler, S.M. Theroux, C. Palacios, A. Aguilera, and R. Amils. Microbial community structure across the tree of life in the extreme Río Tinto. The ISME Journal 5: 42-50 (doi:10.1038/ismej.2010.101).

2008 Palacios, C., E. Zettler, R. Amils, and L. Amaral-Zettler. Contrasting microbial community assembly hypotheses: A reconciling tale from the Río Tinto. PLoS One 3(12): e3853. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003853

2008 Souza-Egipsy, V. González-Toril, E., Zettler, E., Amaral-Zettler, L., Aguilera, A., Amils, R. Prokaryotic community structure in algal photosynthetic biofilms from extreme acidic streams in Río Tinto (Huelva, Spain). International Microbiology 11: 251-260, DOI: 10.2436/20.1501.01.xx ISSN: 1139-6709 http://www.im.microbios.org

2007 Aguilera, A., L. Amaral-Zettler, V. Souza-Egipsy, E. Zettler, and R. Amils. Eukaryotic community structure from Río Tinto, (SW, Spain), a highly acidic river. Pages 465-485 in J. Seckbach, editor. Algae and cyanobacteria in extreme environments. Springer, The Netherlands.

2007 Aguilera, Angeles, Erik Zettler, Felipe Gómez, Linda Amaral-Zettler, Nuria Rodríguez and Ricardo Amils. Distribution and seasonal variability in the benthic eukaryotic community of Río Tinto (SW,Spain, an acidic, high metal extreme environment. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 30: 531-546

2005 Messerli, Mark A., Linda A. Amaral Zettler, Erik Zettler, Sung-Kwon Jung, Peter J.S. Smith and Mitchell L. Sogin. Life at acidic pH imposes an increased energetic cost for a Eukaryotic Acidophile, J.Exp.Biol. 208: 2569-2579.

2005 Amaral-Zettler, Linda A., Abby D. Laatsch, Erik Zettler, Thomas A. Nerad, Jeffrey Cole, Felipe Chavarria Diaz, Joel Diaz, Daniel H. Janzen, Ana Sittenfeld, Olivia Mason, Anna-Louise Reysenbach. A Microbial Observatory of Caterpillars: Isolation and Molecular Characterization of Protists Associated with the Saturniid Moth Caterpillar Rothschildia lebeau, Journal of Euk Microbiol, 52: 107-115.

2004 Amy Bower, Erik Zettler, and Glen Gawarkiewicz. Science under sail. Oceanography 17:42-51.

2002 Linda A. Amaral Zettler, Felipe Gómez, Erik Zettler, Brendan G. Keenan|, Ricardo Amils, Mitchell L. Sogin. Eukaryotic diversity in Spain’s River of Fire. Nature 417: 137.

1999 Zettler, E.R., and J. Atema. Chemoreceptor cells as concentration slope detectors: Preliminary evidence from the lobster nose. Biological Bulletin 197: 252-253.

1996 Zettler, E.R., R.J. Olson, B.J. Binder, S.W. Chisholm, S.E. Fitzwater, and R.M. Gordon. Iron-enrichment bottle experiments in the equatorial Pacific: responses of individual phytoplankton cells. Deep-Sea Research 43: 1017-1029.

1995 Olson, R.J. and E.R. Zettler. 1995. Potential of flow cytometry for “pump and probe” fluorescence measurements of phytoplankton photosynthetic characteristics. Limnol. Oceanogr., 40:816-820.

1994 DuRand, M.D., R.J. Olson, and E.R. Zettler. 1994. Flow cytometric analyses of phytoplankton growth during diel studies in the Equatorial Pacific. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 75(3):28‑29.

1993 Olson, R.J., E.R. Zettler, and M.D. DuRand. Phytoplankton analysis using flow cytometry. In: Kemp, P.F., B.F. Sherr, E.B. Sherr and J.J. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of Methods in Aquatic Microbial Ecology, Lewis Publ.

1992 Chisholm, S.W., S.L. Frankel, R. Goericke, R.J. Olson, B. Palenik, J.B. Waterbury, L. West-Johnsrud and E.R. Zettler. Prochlorococcus marinus nov. gen. nov. sp.: An oxyphototrophic marine prokaryote containing divinyl chlorophyll a and b. Archives of Microbiology 157: 297-300.

1991 Olson, R.J., E.R. Zettler, S.W. Chisholm and J.A. Dusenberry. Advances in oceanography through flow cytometry. In: Demers, S. (Ed.), Individual Cell and Particle Analysis in Oceanography, Springer-Verlag.

1990 Olson, R. J., S. W. Chisholm, E. R. Zettler, M. A. Altabet and J. A. Dusenberry. Spatial and temporal distribution of prochlorophyte picoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean., Deep-Sea Research. 37: 1033-1051.

1990 Olson, R. J., S. W. Chisholm, E. V. Armbrust and E. R. Zettler. Pigments, size and distribution of Synechococcus in the N. Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Limnol. Oceanogr. 35: 45-58.

1989 Olson, R. J., E. R. Zettler and O. K. Anderson. Discrimination of eukaryotic phytoplankton cell types from light scatter and autofluorescence properties measured by flow cytometry. Cytometry 10: 636-643.

1988 Chisholm, S. W., R. J. Olson, E. R. Zettler, R. Goericke, J. B. Waterbury and N. A. Welschmeyer. A novel free-living prochlorophyte abundant in the oceanic euphotic zone. Nature 334: 340-343.

1988 Olson, R. J., S. W. Chisholm, E. R. Zettler and E. V. Armbrust. Analysis of Synechococcus pigment types in the sea using single and dual beam flow cytometry. Deep-Sea Research 35: 425-440.

1986 Ostrofsky, M. L. and E. R. Zettler. Chemical defenses in aquatic plants. J. of Ecology 74: 279-287.

1986 Zettler, E. R. and J. C. H. Carter. Zooplankton community and species responses to a natural turbidity gradient in Lake Temiskaming, Ontario- Quebec. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 43: 665-673.