Our diatom research covers both extinct and extant taxa. It utilises both fossil and preserved material as well as living material in the form of cultured collections.
There are some 10-12,000 known species of freshwater diatoms, with a further 200-250,000 suspected species.
A series of projects investigating their morphology, phylogenetic relationships and distribution relative to all organisms surrounding the margins of the Pacific Ocean are being carried out at the Museum.
This interdisciplinary project focuses on the non-monophyletic group of ‘araphid’ diatoms.
The scientific problems requiring study of the Museum’s diatom specimens indicates the contemporary value and relevance of historical collections.
The biogeographic aspect of this floristic and taxon-based research focuses on ancient lakes. It could help us understand the opening of the Pacific and the origins of the Southern hemisphere biota.
Building our knowledge of benthic diatoms from ancient lakes could underline their significance within the global biodiversity crisis and climate change.