Sylvia Lee

Taxon Contributor
Aquatic Ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

LaLiberte, Gina


Lowe, Rex

Taxonomy ensures immortality in science. Even if you are wrong, you will live forever in synonomy. - Maureen Donnelly


I first discovered diatoms through an undergraduate research project on the effects of dam operations on diatom communities of the Colorado River. Then, my graduate work took me to the Everglades, where extremely productive periphyton communities cover the landscape and provide habitat for fascinating diatoms, many of which are waiting to be described. My research is about understanding how aquatic microorganisms come together to form complex communities and how the communities interact with their habitat in freshwater ecosystems. Understanding microbial community assembly has important implications for predicting the effects of environmental change from regional to global scales. Currently, I am conducting research on the effects of contaminants (an antihistamine and road salt) on algal and bacterial biofilm communities in urban streams.

I strive to be a strong advocate of taxonomic and natural history studies because they provide fundamental knowledge for interpreting how and why organisms respond to ecosystem-scale processes. Taxonomy provides a systematic way to document and organize the amazing biodiversity on Earth, which forms a necessary foundation for building ecological hypotheses and theories. While documenting the taxonomy of unknown diatoms is not a requirement when diatoms are used as tools for environmental assessment in one system, taxonomic studies are a critical step toward understanding how global processes affect organisms across many systems. Inspirational words can be found at these two blogs: Lyman Entomological Museum and Small Pond Science.

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Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
South Florida Periphyton Group
High School Diatom Camp 2012
High School Diatom Camp 2013
High School Aquatic Microbiology Camp 2014