During the Anthropocene, human impacts on lacustrine systems have increased dramatically, affecting the primary producing phytoplankton community. In recent decades, the global increase of harmful algal blooms (HABs) due to e.g., eutrophication, elevating CO2concentrations and rising temperatures, has become a worldwide problem for the water quality of different lakes threatening the water supply of million people. Beside their impact on water quality, phytoplankton have a key role in the major biogeochemical cycles of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P), with different algae species having different effects on the respective cycle. Therefore, the way in which the algal community will change in response to future environmental changes can have various impacts on C, N and P fluxes further affecting virtually all ecosystems. A powerful tool to predict future changes in the phytoplankton species diversity is the investigation of algal responses to environmental alterations in the past. In this context, the determination of reliable sedimentary proxies recording phytoplankton dynamics is indispensable.
In my PhD project, I will validate and cross-calibrate different geochemical and biological proxies for the reconstruction of phytoplankton communities in modern lacustrine systems. By the development of a multi-proxy framework, I will investigate how the algal community changed in response to known anthropogenic perturbations of the 20th century in lakes of the Swiss Plateau and examine the occurrence of HABs in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York. I am also interested in the natural variability and dynamic of phytoplankton species before the Anthropocene. With my work, I would like to contribute to a better prediction of how the algal population will change in response to future environmental perturbations. The prediction of phytoplankton dynamics can further provide indications about how major biogeochemical cycles will shift with associated effects on ecosystems and climate change. Moreover, the possibility to predict changes in algal communities could enable an early and targeted supporting or suppressing of specific phytoplankton species.
Since Feb 2022: PhD student in the Organic Geochemistry Group of Prof. Dr. Nemiah Ladd at University of Basel (CH)
Oct 2019 – Dec 2021: Master of Science in Cell and Molecular biology at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (DE)
Oct 2016 – Sep 2019: Bachelor of Science in Biology at Eberhard Karls University Tübingen (DE)