What we do
The primary focus of our group is to understand the ecological and biogeochemical roles of phytoplankton (microalgae) in marine and coastal systems. Phytoplankton are single-celled aquatic protists that form the base of aquatic food webs, account for approximately half of the earth’s total photosynthesis, and therefore play a central role in global biogeochemistry. Phytoplankton can also have considerable impacts on ecosystem and human health, particularly through the formation of harmful algal blooms (HABs), large accumulations of biomass that have the potential to negatively affect humans and/or wildlife through the production of potent toxins or other adverse ecological, health, or economic effects. Our group is interested in determining (1) the relationships between 'top-down' (nutrient) and 'bottom-up' (grazer) controls on phytoplankton assemblages, (2) the causes and consequences of HABs for ecosystem and human health, (3) novel techniques for identifying and quantifying natural phytoplankton assemblages. We use a combination of field, laboratory, and in situ approaches to conduct our research.
The South Carolina Algal Ecology Laboratory (SCAEL) was formed in 2001 out of a unique partnership between the University of South Carolina's Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences and the Marine Resources Research Institute (MRRI) of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The SCAEL is located at the Hollings Marine Laboratory and the MRRI within the Fort Johnson Research Community in Charleston, SC. The laboratory, currently under direction of Dr. Dianne Greenfield, has a long history of HAB research and monitoring. Today, the SCAEL is involved in projects covering a wide range of topics including, but not restricted to, HABs. Please visit our 'Research' page to learn more about ongoing initiatives.
Dr. Dianne I. Greenfield, PhD
Office: HML H212-G