The Simons Collaboration on Computational Biogeochemical Modeling of Marine Ecosystems (CBIOMES) will develop and apply quantitative models of the structure and function of marine microbial communities at seasonal and basin scales. The project brings together a multi-disciplinary group of investigators from oceanography, statistics, data science, ecology, biogeochemistry and remote sensing.
Microbial communities in the sea mediate the global cycles of elements including carbon, sulfur and nitrogen. Photosynthetic microbes in the surface ocean fix these elements into organic molecules, fueling food webs that sustain most other life in the ocean. Organic matter is transported into the deeper, dark ocean, where it is consumed and respired by microbes, maintaining a reservoir of carbon substantially larger than the atmospheric inventory of CO2. The organisms that sustain these global-scale cycles are functionally and genetically diverse, non-uniformly distributed and sparsely sampled in space and time.
We seek to characterize biogeography of key marine microbes at basin and seasonal scales, to ask how organismal characteristics and interactions shape these patterns, and to understand and quantify the relationship between biogeography and elemental cycles. To this end we will develop models that represent key traits of marine microbes, compile and interpret diverse observational data sets, and formally combine data and models in order to map out microbial biogeography, interpret the organizing principles, and infer large-scale biogeochemical fluxes.