Statistical Modeling of Microbial Communities: Niches, Traits, and Interactions

Andrew Irwin
Dalhousie University

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.

CBIOMES Collaborators in the Irwin Group

News from the Irwin Group


Catherine Fiset, Andrew J. Irwin, Zoe V. Finkel (2019), The macromolecular composition of non‐calcified marine macroalgae, Journal of Phycology, doi: 10.1111/jpy.12913

When Phytoplankton Go Hungry

Story by Helen Hill | CBIOMES News The Redfield ratio, the atomic ratio of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus (C:N:P) in phytoplankton and deep ocean waters, has often been treated as a...

CBIOMES Welcomes Olga Carnicer

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Lab Notes: Britten visits Dalhousie

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Phytoplankton Realized Niches Track Changing Oceanic Conditions at a Long-Term Coastal Station off Sydney Australia

by Helen Hill for CBIOMES CBIOMES researchers in the Dalhousie Group looking at changes in phytoplankton biogeography in response to changing climate find mean phytoplankton niches closely tracked changes in mean...