Statistical Modeling of Microbial Communities: Niches, Traits, and Interactions
Marine microbial communities form the base of the marine food web and perform about half of the photosynthesis on Earth. They are key components of the global carbon cycle and help to sequester carbon in the deep ocean, removing it from the atmosphere, through the burial of organic matter on the seafloor. The productivity and function of marine microbial communities are determined in part by the biogeography — which species live where.
We will assemble and analyze observations of microbial communities to develop predictive statistical models that describe community composition. Additional statistical models will be developed to determine the physiological and ecological traits of species and groups of species that determine the growth rates of marine microbes.
Finally, we will analyze community composition data to determine sub-communities of species that tend to co-occur or tend to not be found together to better understand the complex interactions among species and the suites of traits of species that form stable communities.