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Research project

Silica Stoichiometry in the Southern Ocean

Project overview

Diatoms play a central role in marine ecology, global biogeochemical cycling and climate. As a dominant phytoplankton group in productive waters, they provide a direct and efficient pathway to higher trophic levels and support as much as 40% of oceanic carbon export. Characterised by their hard silica cells, the global biogeography and associated ecosystem functions of diatoms are restricted by the availability of dissolved silica in seawater. In particular, the ratio of silica to nitrate and phosphate plays a key role in determining whether phytoplankton blooms are dominated by diatoms, or other plankton with different functional characteristics relating to trophic transfer and carbon export.


Lead researcher

Dr Ben Ward

Principal Research Fellow

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups