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

May 2021 CBIOMES e-meeting Vinitha Ebenezer (Dal)

“Do photosynthetic picoeukaryotes (small cells) have anomalous biochemical composition?” Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)

March 2021 CBIOMES e-meeting Niall McGinty (Dal)

“Anthropogenic climate change impacts on copepod trait biogeography” Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)


Niall McGinty, Andrew D Barton, Nicholas R Record, Zoe V Finkel, David G Johns, Charles A Stock, Andrew J Irwin (2020), Anthropogenic climate change impacts on copepod trait biogeography, Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.15499 Get the...

December 2020 CBIOMES (Poster) e-Meeting

To provide an opportunity to "pick up the conversation" and chat with colleagues about where work had gone since our Annual Meeting in June, the December gathering was an all-hands...


Mutshinda. C.M., Finkel, Z.V., Widdicombe, C.E. & Irwin, A.J. (2020), A trait-based taxonomy for phytoplankton biomass modeling and prediction, Diversity, doi: 10.3390/d12080295 Get the PDF [Requires login]


A.W. Omta, D. Talmy, K. Inomura, A.J. Irwin, Z.V. Finkel, D. Sher, and M.J. Follows (2020), Quantifying nutrient throughput and DOM production by algae in continuous culture, Journal of Theoretical Biology, doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2020.110214 Get the PDF [Requires...


Crispin M. Mutshinda, Andrew J. Irwin, Mikko J. Sillanpää (2020), A Bayesian Framework for Robust Quantitative Trait Locus Mapping and Outlier Detection, The International Journal of Biostatistics, doi: 10.1515/ijb-2019-0038 Get the PDF...

Seen at Ocean Sciences: CBIOMES Posters

Several CBIOMES members shared posters at this year’s Ocean Sciences conference which took place in San Diego in February. Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates....


C. Mutshinda, C. Widdicombe, Z.V. Finkel, A.J. Irwin (2019), Bayesian inference to partition determinants of community dynamics from observational time series, Community Ecology, doi: 10.1556/168.2019.20.3.4 Get the PDF [Requires login]

CBIOMES Welcomes Mohammad Amirian Matlob

by Helen Hill for CBIOMES A warm welcome to graduate student Mohammad Amirian Matlob who joins Andrew Irwin's Dalhousie CBIOMES Group this month. (more…)

CBIOMES at CMStatistics2019

In December, several from CBIOMES traveled to London, England, to present their work at CMStatistics2019, a conference organized by the European Research Consortium for Informatics (ERCIM) Working Group on Computational...

CBIOMES Goes to Ocean Sciences 2020

Look out for members of the CBIOMES team, sharing their work at this year’s Ocean Sciences conference taking place February 16-21 in San Diego, California. (more…)


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 Get the PDF [Requires login]

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

A warm welcome to postdoc Olga Carnicer as she joins Zoe Finkel’s Dalhousie CBIOMES Group. (more…)

Past Annual Reporting

2020 | 20192018 [login required]