The Diatoms:
Applications for the environmental and earth sciences

2nd Edition

Edited by John P. Smol and Eugene F. Stoermer

Cambridge University Press
September 2010
ISBN: 9780521509961
686 pages


Ordering Information


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“In conclusion, this book will be an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in diatoms, particularly students, who will appreciate its thorough reviews and wealth of literature citations.”

Evelyn E. Gaiser, Limnology and Oceanography


“The book is an essential resource for all students and investigators who have interest in diatoms and environmental sciences, both for modern studies and historical applications.”

Thomas J. Whitmore, Journal of Paleolimnology


“This book is packed with information on the many uses of diatoms in the Earth and environmental sciences. It is a great addition to any library."
Brian I. Sherrod, The Quarterly Review of Biology


“With this book – all of whose chapters are of high quality – it can be fairly said that environmental diatom analysis has come of age.”
Neil Roberts, The Holocene


“The book can be warmly recommended to a wide variety of readers.”
J. Kristiansen, Nordic Journal of Botany


“This is a book that all libraries with ecological or environmental science collections should purchase as an important reference.”
Walter K. Dobbs, Ecological Engineering


Photo by J. Ehrman

Photo by P. Snoeijs


Photo by P. Snoeijs

The Textbook

This much revised and expanded edition provides a valuable and detailed summary of the many uses of diatoms in a wide range of applications in the environmental and earth sciences. Particular emphasis is placed on the use of diatoms in analysing ecological problems related to climate change, acidification, eutrophication, and other pollution issues. The chapters are divided into sections for easy reference, with separate sections covering indicators in different aquatic environments. A final section explores diatom use in other fields of study such as forensics, oil and gas exploration, nanotechnology, and archaeology. Sixteen new chapters have been added since the first edition, including introductory chapters on diatom biology and the numerical approaches used by diatomists. The extensive glossary has also been expanded and now includes over 1,000 detailed entries, which will help non-specialists to use the book effectively.


• Comprehensive coverage provides a one-stop shop for information on diatom applications
• Significantly revised and expanded since the first edition, with sixteen new chapters
• Extensive glossary allows even non-specialists to use the book effectively

The Editors

John P. Smol, FRSC is a professor in the Department of Biology at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), with a cross-appointment at the School of Environmental Studies. He is also co-director of the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), and holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change.  Professor Smol is the founding editor of the Journal of Paleolimnology (1987-2007), editor of the journal Environmental Reviews, and the Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research book series.  He has authored over 420 journal papers and book chapters, and has completed 18 books. Since 1990, he has won over 30 research awards and fellowships (including the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, as Canada’s top scientist or engineer), as well as seven teaching awards.

Eugene F. Stoermer is a past-President of the Phycological Society of America and the International Association for Diatom Research. He has worked at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA) since 1965, where he is currently Professor Emeritus in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and directed the so-called “Phyto – Lab”, which undertook a wide variety of research topics, specializing in diatom systematics and ecology. He previously served as Editor of the journal  Diatom Research (1985-1990), as well as on the editorial boards of a number of other journals. Stoermer has authored over 250 refereed publications, and was the lead editor on the first edition of this book. His research awards include the Darbaker Prize from the Botanical Society of America, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research, and the Excellence Award from the Phycological Society of America.

The Contents


 Part I  Introduction

1  Applications and uses of diatoms: Prologue John P. Smol and Eugene F. Stoermer

 2  The diatoms: A primer. Matthew L. Julius and Edward C. Theriot

 3  Numerical methods for the analysis of diatom assemblage data. H. John B. Birks

 Part II Diatoms as indicators of environmental change in flowing waters and lakes 

4  Assessing environmental conditions in rivers and streams with diatoms. R. Jan Stevenson, Yangdong Pan, and Herman van Dam 

5  Diatoms as indicators of long-term environmental change in rivers, fluvial lakes and impoundments. Euan D. Reavie and Mark B. Edlund

6  Diatoms as indicators of surface-water acidity.Richard W. Battarbee, Donald F. Charles, Christian Bigler, Brian F. Cumming and Ingemar Renberg 

7  Diatoms as indicators of lake eutrophication.
Roland I. Hall and John P. Smol

 8  Diatoms as indicators of environmental change in shallow lakes. Helen Bennion, Carl D. Sayer, John Tibby and Hunter J. Carrick 

9  Diatoms as indicators of water-level change in freshwater lakes. Julie A. Wolin and Jeffery R. Stone 

10  Diatoms as indicators of hydrologic and climatic change in saline lakes. Sheri C. Fritz, Brian F. Cumming, Françoise Gasse and Kathleen R. Laird

 11 Diatoms in ancient lakes. Anson W. Mackay, Mark B. Edlund and Galina Khursevich 

Part III Diatoms as indicators in Arctic, Antarctic and alpine lacustrine environments 

12 Diatoms as indicators of environmental change in subarctic and alpine regions. André F. Lotter, Reinhard Pienitz and Roland Schmidt 

13 Freshwater diatoms as indicators of environmental change in the High Arctic. Marianne S.V. Douglas and John P. Smol 

14  Diatoms as indicators of environmental change in Antarctic and subantarctic freshwaters. Sarah A. Spaulding, Bart Van de Vijver, Dominic A Hodgson, Diane M. McKnight, Elie Verleyen and Lee Stanish

 Part IV  Diatoms as indicators in marine and estuarine environments

15 Diatoms and environmental change in large brackish-water ecosystems. Pauline Snoeijs and Kaarina Weckström

16 Applied diatom studies in estuaries and shallow coastal environments. Rosa Trobajo and Michael J. Sullivan 

17 Estuarine paleoenvironmental reconstructions using diatoms. Sherri Cooper, Evelyn Gaiser and Anna Wachnicka 

18 Diatoms on coral reefs and in tropical marine lakes. Christopher S. Lobban and Richard W. Jordan 

19 Diatoms as indicators of former sea levels, earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. Benjamin P. Horton and Yuki Sawai

20 Marine diatoms as indicators of modern changes in oceanographic conditions. Oscar E. Romero and Leanne K. Armand 

21 Holocene marine diatom records of environmental change. Amy Leventer, Xavier Crosta and Jennifer Pike 

22 Diatoms as indicators of paleoceanographic events. Richard W. Jordan and Catherine E. Stickley 

23 Reconsidering the meaning of biogenic silica accumulation rates in the glacial Southern Ocean. Christina L. De La Rocha, Olivier Ragueneau and Aude Leynaert

 Part V Other applications 

24 Diatoms of aerial habitats. Jeffrey R. Johansen 

25  Diatoms as indicators of environmental change in wetlands and peatlands. Evelyn Gaiser and Kathleen Rühland

26 Tracking fish, seabirds, and wildlife population dynamics with diatoms and other limnological indicators. Irene Gregory-Eaves and Bronwyn E. Keatley

 27 Diatoms and archaeology. Steve Juggins and Nigel G. Cameron

 28 Diatoms in oil and gas exploration. William N. Krebs, Andrey Yu. Gladenkov and Gareth D. Jones 

29  Forensic science and diatoms. Anthony J. Peabody and Nigel G. Cameron

 30  Toxic marine diatoms. Maria Célia Villac, Gregory J. Doucette and Irena Kaczmarska

 31 Diatoms as markers of atmospheric transport. Margaret A. Harper and Robert M. McKay 

32 Diatoms as nonnative species. Sarah A. Spaulding, Cathy Kilroy and Mark B. Edlund 

33 Diatomite. David M. Harwood 

34 Stable isotopes from diatom silica. Melanie J. Leng and George E. A. Swann 

35 Diatoms and nanotechnology: Early history and imagined future as seen through patents. Richard Gordon

 Part IV Conclusions 

36 Epilogue: A view to the future. John P. Smol and Eugene F. Stoermer 

Glossary, acronyms, and abbreviations