Estuaries are nurseries that are critical habitat for many commercially and recreationally important species. The base of the food web in these systems is supplied by microalgal primary production in both the water column (phytoplankton) and the sediments (benthic microalgae). Dr. Jay Pinckney and his colleagues Drs. Eilea Knotts (Instructional Faculty in our Department), John Kupfer (Professor in the Department of Geography) and Erik Smith (Assistant Research Professor at the Baruch Institute), have been awarded a $884,365 grant from the National Science Foundation to work on the benthic microalgal subsidy in estuarine ecosystems. Their project focuses on quantifying the contribution of benthic microalgae to total ecosystem primary production in the North Inlet Estuary, SC. Benthic microalgal production estimates along an elevational gradient (low to high tide region) are then used to assess responses to the impending sea level rise. The results have implications for wetlands valuation, carbon credits, trophodynamics, and carbon storage in estuarine ecosystems, and will likely restructure our understanding and current paradigms of energy flow and cycling processes in estuaries. Congrats!