Biological Oceanography

Study the ocean through the lens of marine organisms and how they interact with their environment.


  • Passive sampler Oceanographic Analysis, Assays, and Techniques - GSO seismologists advanced the science of detecting and analyzing pressure waves caused by earthquakes, landslides, and nuclear explosions through development of a novel modeling approach called full-wave seismic analysis. This method extracts much more information from these phenomena than captured by older, standard ray-tracing methods. GSO’s high-powered computer clusters allow detection of small seismic events […]
  • Deep Microbes - Recent discoveries by GSO biogeochemists in samples from Deep Sea Drilling Program (DSDP) cores taken from the Pacific Ocean have significant implications for the nature and global distribution of life in the sediments of the subseafloor. For example, estimates of Earth’s total living biomass are now 10-45 percent lower than previously thought, and the depth […]
  • Photo micrograph of a Chaetoceros species from Narragansett Bay. Photo Lucie Maranda. Microbial and Planktonic Diversity - GSO scientists characterize the genetic diversity and distribution of planktonic populations globally over time, space, and in different marine ecosystems. This provides an understanding of basic processes of speciation, selection, and adaption, and how plankton respond to their environments. Examining physical influences on phytoplankton form and function shows how small-scale turbulence affects cell and colony […]
  • Food Web Dynamics - GSO researchers study interactions among phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish to develop an understanding of how energy is transferred and how carbon is exported in polar, temperate, and tropical ecosystems, both coastal and oceanic. By examining the importance of ice algae in Arctic copepod diets and the feeding behavior of Antarctic krill, scientists decipher how the […]
  • A NOAA wave amplitude image captures the “meteotsunami” that affected the East Coast in 2013 From Data Collection to Modeling - Modeling of fish populations and their trophic interactions is an essential element for defining targets for sustainable fisheries, and estimating benefits of rebuilding stocks. The effects of seasonal migrations of interacting fish species and population feeding habits are modeled by GSO fisheries biologists to better explore the consequences of different harvest strategies and changes in […]
  • Diver in Narragansett Bay Monitoring and Water Quality - Humans influence the marine nitrogen cycle through their additions of nitrogen to the coastal environment, mostly from agricultural fertilizers and waste treatment facilities, leading to eutrophication and oxygen depletion. With novel isotopic tools, GSO researchers follow the movement of nitrogen through marine waters, helping guide intelligent wastewater management policies. How do estuaries respond to changes […]
  • Flounder embryos Fisheries and Population Dynamics - Understanding exploited fish and invertebrate population dynamics relies on indirect estimates of abundance in relation to biological, environmental, and harvesting factors affecting fluctuations in populations. GSO fisheries oceanographers develop reliable methodologies for robust fish stock assessment from commercial catch and survey data. Multispecies, age-structured statistical analyses (such as from the Georges Bank fish community), and […]
  • A chart, from the recently-completed Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP), depicts surface roughness Science for Coastal Management - The recently-completed Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) brought together talented GSO/URI oceanographers and writers to produce a science-based management and regulatory plan to help stakeholders, managers, and policy makers make wise use of the Rhode Island’s offshore waters (RI Sound, Block Island Sound, and the associated continental shelf region of the Atlantic Ocean). […]
  • GSO. On an unusually flat sampling day on Narragansett Bay, GSO graduate student Mary Kane and undergraduate intern Rachel Marshal, prepare to release the day’s catch. Long Term Surveys - With more than 140 species documented so far in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, one of the world’s longest surveys of fish and invertebrates continues, weekly and year-round, since 1959, in catch-and-release otter-trawl samplings. The 55-year dataset documents shifts in patterns of species abundance and composition in relation to environmental conditions and fishing effort. […]