Showing posts from February, 2017

Diatom of the Month: February 2017

The Art of Diatoms by Xavier Cortada Artist-in-Residence FIU School of Environment, Art and Society   Fig. 1. Cortada’s one-hundred diatom works on tile (each 6″ x 6″), 2017. I marvel at looking into a microscope.  I focus in and see time. I see the past, really far into the past. I see beautiful small aquatic plants encased in glass that lived on our planet for many millions of years. Sitting inside Dr. Evelyn Gaiser’s Algae Research lab at Florida International University in Miami, I look at a slide   and see diatoms.  Diatoms transport me to a place so distant in time that it wouldn’t look like the Earth I know. They help connect me to an Earth I am trying to better understand. An Earth fluid. An Earth as process. An Earth completely interconnected. An Earth generating life forms across space and time.  Fig. 2 . Xavier Cortada, Drawings of Diatoms from the Everglades, 6″ x 6″, ceramic tile, 2017. In diatoms I also see moments captured in tim

Researching Algae, the Unsung Heroes of Aquatic Food Webs

by Luca Marazzi * Why is it important to study algae? To start with, algae produce ~ 50% of the oxygen on planet Earth, they are food for small and large animals that in turn are eaten by people, but they also recycle nutrients and absorb CO 2 from the air; by existing and doing their own thing, these microorganisms provide these so called ecosystem services to human beings (Fig. 1). Moreover, as algae reproduce fast and are often adapted to specific environmental conditions, understanding how many species of algae, and which ones, live where and why give us cues as to the health of aquatic ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes, and wetlands.  Fig. 1 . Simplified scheme of the role of algae in food webs (from my Ph.D.  Thesis ). * Dr.   Luca Marazzi   is a freshwater ecologist working in   Dr. Evelyn Gaiser’s research group   in the School of Environment, Arts and Society at Florida International University. His main interest is how biodiversity, ecology, and dist