In my research I seek to quantify the fate and importance of different sources of primary productivity in marine, estuarine, and lake food webs. I use fatty acid and stable isotope biomarkers with a combination of observational, experimental, and modeling approaches to infer the dietary contribution of various producers to 'primary' invertebrate consumers.
Why does this matter? Aquatic ecosystems host a diverse flora of phytoplankton, seaweeds, and seagrasses, which synthesize 'essential' fatty acids required by all heterotrophs. Zooplankton, fish, orcas, and even humans ultimately rely upon algae to supply these polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to the base of the food chain.
In my current work, I am investigating the potential consequences to food webs of long-term changes in the food quality (e.g., lipid content) of phytoplankton communities in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. I have diverse additional interests in subtidal and intertidal invertebrate-algal interactions and nearshore benthic-pelagic coupling.
The pages of this site have a sample of some of my favorite subtidal scenes. All pictures are by Aaron Galloway (copyright) unless otherwise noted.