Diatom of the Month – May 2017: Navicula lanceolata

By Martyn Kelly*, in collaboration with Luca Marazzi

Navicula lanceolata(Agardh) Ehrenberg 1838 is a symmetrical biraphid diatom with lanceolate valve margins, broad in the central valve and slightly rostrate, rounded ends (Fig. 1, #1); the central area is an irregular oval (Fig. 1, #2), and striae are radiate, except at the ends where they become convergent (Fig. 1, #3). This species has two chloroplasts, one along each side of the girdle (Fig. 2) and is highly motile.

Fig. 1. Navicula lanceolata (Source:
Fig. 2. Navicula lanceolata in fresh samples with brown chloroplasts (Source:;
Image Copyright: E.J. Cox).
This is one of the most widely-distributed and frequently-encountered diatoms in both Europe and North America and is particularly abundant in winter and early spring; like a few other motile diatoms, it can form dark-brown patches on the top of biofi…

The Next Generation of Scientists

I know the reason I have pursued graduate school and a career in science is owed to the mentoring I received as an undergraduate student. My first mentor was Dr. Simmons, who I worked under in his lab on stream ecology. He encouraged me to apply for the Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs, where I went on to work with Dr. Rosi and Dr. Bechtold for a whole summer at Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies. It was this experience that gave me the confidence and background to apply for graduate school programs. In fact, Dr. Bechtold introduced me (virtually) to my current advisor!

Because of all the guidance and encouragement I got as an undergraduate I am highly motivated to continue the legacy and mentor the next generation of scientists. I am thankful that my advisor has given me the opportunity to work with three different REU students. For me, working with undergraduate students has many benefits. They are eager to help, they are curious, and they are enthusiastic. Th…

DOC or: How I learned to start worrying about carbon in water

Post by: Peter Regier

My research with the FCE-LTER works to better understand where organic carbon comes from, how it changes in the environment and where it ends up.  Organic carbon is the stuff that makes up all living things, and when plants and critters die, the organic carbon they are made of can be sequestered in soils or mobilize into the water or the air.  Since the Everglades is a subtropical system that usually doesn’t freeze and gets lots of sunlight (Florida is called the sunshine state for a reason…), plants can grow year-round.  This means we end up with ton of organic carbon moving in and out of environments like sawgrass marshes, mangroves and seagrass beds (all of which produce and store organic carbon).    

I’m interested in understanding how environmental drivers like hydrology and climate impact organic carbon dissolved in natural waters, aptly named dissolved organic carbon (DOC).  Since we can easily quantify DOC in the lab, we should be able to collect some water…

Diatom of the Month: April 2017 - Staurosirella pinnata

by Jennifer Fitchett*
At very high altitudes and relatively high latitude (~30°S), the eastern Lesotho highlands comprise am ecologically restricted, yet biologically diverse, environment for plant growth. The terrestrial vegetation is described as the Drakensberg Alpine Centre, hosting a considerable number of endemic montane to alpine species. This region of South Africa is dotted by numerous small tarns (lakes) and wetlands, each host to thriving communities of largely cosmopolitan diatom species. Of these, a very common taxa, Staurosirella pinnata (Ehrenberg), has an interesting story to tell.

Fig. 1. Photographs of Mafadi summit, with the white diatomite outcrops  visible in the foreground.

Fig. 2. A photograph of a typical microscope slide of diatoms from Mafadi Summit, indicating a predominance of Staurosirella pinnata and Fragilaria construens.
At one of the highest summits of eastern Lesotho, and the highest point of bordering South Africa, Mafadi Summit represents the contempora…

Mom in the Marsh

The highest compliment anyone can give me is to comment on how similar I am to my mother. My mom is the most amazing woman I know and I love when people joke about us being twins or sisters. But, it is not just her appearance I admire; I aspire to have her work ethic, perseverance, and independence. I owe a lot of who I am today to my mother.
Recently, I have been thinking about why I became a scientist and how I have been able to make it this far. An article just came out that found by the time girls reach the age of six they already have negative beliefs about female intelligence. I was surprised by this finding because I can only remember one instance where I felt singled out or intellectually inferior because I am a woman. I never really thought I was special or overcoming a gender disadvantage as I settled into science. After reading about how young girls are dissuaded from activities that require brilliance as opposed to hard work and how it might prevent some young women from …

Undergraduate ReSEArch: Seagrasses in Florida Bay

Post by Kai Lopez

ecosystem services, such as vital nursery habitat for many fish species, sediment stabilization, and increased water quality, in addition to providing food to turtles and manatees. As an undergraduate technician in the Seagrass Ecosystems Research Lab (SERL), I have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with Florida Bay seagrasses.  From fleeing smacks of jellyfish to almost being swallowed by liquid sediments in a canal, the adventure never stops in the seagrass lab. One time I even got to go mano-a-mano with a stone crab bigger than my head over a tidbit. But don’t get the wrong idea, everyone here in the seagrass lab has spent days engrossed in the monotonous work of scraping seagrass as well. As a wise man once said “Seagrass never sleeps!"  My research focuses on how productivity of one seagrass species has been changing over time and what role salinity may play. This may give insights into how CERP (the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) ma…

Diatom of the month: March 2017 - Mastogloia pseudosmithii

by Sylvia Lee, FIU & Periphyton lab alumna

Did you know that March 19 is Taxonomist Appreciation Day?

Fig. 1. Cartoon on what taxonomy is.Image credit: BuzzHootRoor from
Taxonomy is the study of organisms and their classification (or in more witty/punny terms in the image above, “how you phylum”). Recognizing and putting names to organisms may come easy to some natural-born naturalists, but taxonomy can be a challenging task requiring specialized knowledge. This is especially true for groups with many species, such as diatoms. Species identification may not seem like an important skill, but it can be thought of as an essential part of “ecoliteracy.” It is difficult to care about something if you do not know its name, and it can even become extinct without your knowledge.
As part of my Ph.D. research, I was able to do an in depth study of some of the diatoms in the Everglades, and described them as new specie…