In the Baines lab, we are interested in the connections between ecosystem function and community structure, and how these connections are influenced by environmental context and historical contingency.   In particular, we document and explain the causes of variation in organismal traits that influence key ecosystem processes, such as primary production, carbon sequestration, nutrient regeneration and denitrification. We are also interested on how competition and predation can influence biogeochemistry by favoring species with certain biogeochemically relevant traits.

We focus primarily on diatoms, cyanobacteria and other microplankton, often using state of the art cell-specific analytic techniques to characterize previously unobserved variation in elemental and biochemical composition.  We also study the things that eat microscopic plankton, such as the crustacean zooplankton and benthic filter feeders.  Sometimes, when we need a breath of fresh air, we rise out of the waves to study the effect of plant community structure on ecosystem functioning of wetland ecosystems which are so common here in the northeastern US. 

Context is important. Consequently, we also tackle long term data sets to determine the relative influence of regional climate and local ecological factors on the dynamics of ecosystem variables in lakes, and how processes representing different fates of primary production scale ecosystem productivity in lakes and oceans.

The site is now being updated regularly and is likely to continue evolving over time. Feel free to browse this site for more detailed descriptions of research projects in progress, introductions to the members of the lab, and recent research news.  There are also opportunities for graduate students, undergraduates and even highly motivated high school students.


Research topics

Research Topics

Ecological stoichiometry of the plankton and its effects on biogeochemical cycles


Dissolved organic matter as an energetic subsidy to zebra mussels

Using plant traits to predict denitrification in tidal wetlands


Limitation of copepod production by trace elements


Regional factors driving variability in ecosystem dynamics