The Phycology Section activities focus on the ecology and taxonomy of algae, particularly diatoms. Our studies deal with how algal taxa are distributed and how environmental factors influence the occurrence of various algal assemblages. Studies deal with large, national scales along with localized assemblages within our state and region. We are particularly interested in applying knowledge of algal ecology to the assessment of a wide range of environmental issues, primarily those related to water quality of rivers, lakes and estuaries.

Since there are many algal taxa, and because they live in a wide variety of habitats, many with specific ecological requirements, algae are excellent ecological indicators, particularly of water quality. Diatoms have a long history of use in ecological assessment. Dr. Ruth Patrick, founder of the Patrick Center, performed important pioneering research on use of diatoms for biomonitoring starting in the 1940s.

For information or inquiries on Phycology work or data, please contact Mariena Hurley at

A shallow river surrounded by a forest.