Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Fiona L. Beltram '18

Research Mentor Jon Witman


The productivity and diversity of reefs in the Galapagos Islands are closely tied to El Niño cycles. Shifts in temperature and nutrient supply associated with this phenomenon can affect biological interactions in the subtidal community, sometimes leading to the introduction of novel species. In 2016, at the peak of the strongest El Niño event since 1997/1998, researchers from the Witman Lab observed a new cyanobacteria at several study sites, forming extensive mats over the reef surface. Beltram’s research investigates the potential introduction mechanisms and ecological effects of this cyanobacteria, especially its palatability for grazers.