I am interested in how phytoplankton (microscopic algae) cycle nutrients within the upper ocean where light penetrates. My research focuses on the ecology of diatoms, a group of phytoplankton. Diatoms have a characteristic shell made of amorphous silica (SiO2-nH2O); they have a global distribution in both marine and freshwater environments and can occur in very high numerical abundances.
Diatoms are important because:
- Their global contribution to primary production is similar to the rain forests
- They are important players in the oceanic cycles of Carbon, Nitrogen, and Silicon
- The sinking of diatom silica, and their associated organic matter, is a major component of the "Biological Pump"
- The production and cycling of diatom silica plays a fundamental role in regulating the exchange of CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere