Phytoplanton Ecology



Don AndersonRubao Ji, Matthew Johnson, Sam Laney, Rob Olson, Heidi Sosik, Craig Taylor, John Waterbury

In the laboratory of Don Anderson, field and laboratory investigations of the causes and effects of toxic phytoplankton blooms ("red tides") in coastal waters focus on the physiology and genetics of the toxic algae.

In the laboratory of Robert Olson, research focuses on the physiological ecology of phytoplankton, especially through the analysis of individual cells using flow cytometry. Current studies include phytoplankton community structure and growth rates of particular groups of phytoplankton (through measurements of diel patterns in cell cycle events and cell size) in the Sargasso Sea, the equatorial Pacific and the Arabian Sea.

Research in Heidi Sosik's laboratory deals with phytoplankton photophysiology and bio-optical oceanography. Goals of the reasearch are to improve understanding of the effects of phytoplankton on ocean optical properties and to develop methods for the retrieval of information about phytoplankton from bio-optical measurements. Ongoing projects include work on optical modeling of primary production and studies of the optical and photosynthetic properties of phytoplankton under controlled conditions in the laboratory and under a wide range of natural environments. Specific emphasis is on the role of environmental factors in regulating the rate and distribution of primary production.

Current collaborative work between Olson and Sosik is focused on the application of individual particle techniques to provide insight into sources of variability in bulk optical and photosynthetic properties in the ocean. This includes measurement of photosynthetic efficiency of individual phytoplankton cells based on chlorophyll fluorescence assays and investigations of the effects of phytoplankton community composition and size structure on light absorption and scattering.