A number of faculty in the OEB group investigate the sources, sinks and transformations of key elemental constituents of marine and freshwater including (but not limited to) carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, silica, sulfur, iron, and molybdenum. The study of elemental cycling and their isotopes informs our understanding of the regulation of biological productivity, dynamics of Earth's climate and chemical history, and allows us to unravel the geological record as well as integrate food web dynamics with prevailing biogeochemistry.
Closely linked with the study of elemental dynamics is the study of ocean food webs. OEB researchers investigate ocean biota from the scale of organisms to ecosystems. Tools range from microscopic and biochemical analysis to global scale remote sensing and modeling. This work spans investigations of bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton ecology; egg, larval and juvenile survival in marine organisms; success of commercial fish species; population and community ecology, the role of the physical environment in determining the distribution, abundance, and behavior of phytoplankton, zooplankton and higher organisms; adaptations of organisms to their environment; trophodynamics and energy flow; and model descriptions of population dynamics of marine organisms. A sampling of OEB research exploring elemental cycles and/or marine food webs includes the work of Lorenzo Ciannelli, Angelicque White, Hal Batchelder, Kelly Benoit-Bird, Ricardo Letelier, Yvette Spitz and Jim McManus.