Dr. Thomas J. Whitmore

Center for Science and Policy Applications for Coastal Environments

University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Photo of Tom Whitmore


Tom is a paleolimnologist who has worked primarily on the use of diatoms to reconstruct past water quality in subtropical and tropical lakes.  In 1994, Tom founded the Paleolimnology Forum (PALEOLIM) listservice, and he has continued to serve as moderator for that list.  He is an ex officio member of the Executive Committee for the International Paleolimnology Association (IPA).  

Tom received a B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Connecticut in 1977.  He completed both his M.S. (1985) and Ph.D. (1991) degrees in Zoology at the University of Florida, where he studied for 8 years with the late Edward S. Deevey, Jr.  For his M.S. thesis, Tom developed diatom-based transfer functions for assessing past trophic-state changes in Florida lakes.  His doctoral research focused on the use of sedimented diatoms to infer past macrophyte presence, and on historic relationships between macrophytes and limnetic nutrient concentrations.  Tom developed interest in editorial work during graduate school, and he studied scientific writing with the late Robert A. Wallace, who was the author of several widely-used biology texts. 

Tom has conducted paleolimnological research on lakes in Florida since 1980, as has worked on lakes in Mexico, in Yunnan Province, China, and in Guatemala.  His research has addressed topics that include human-mediated soil erosion in watersheds of southwest China, heterogeneous sediment distribution in shallow, wind-stressed lake basins, redox conditions in stratified warm-monomictic lakes, water quality and sediment geochemistry in lakes of Yunnan Province, anthropogenic alkalization of Florida lakes, and heavy-metal contamination of lake sediments.  His research currently focuses on water-quality reconstructions in Florida lakes, on sediment deposition and aquatic bioaccumulation of metals from agricultural sources, on diatoms in Yunnan lakes, and on assessing atmospheric nitrogen loading to lakes in the Sierra Nevada range. 

From 1991 to 2003, Tom held research positions with the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida where he worked in the laboratory of Claire L. Schelske.  Tom is married to paleolimnologist Melanie Riedinger-Whitmore, who was on the faculty at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago from 1993-2003, and who now teaches wetlands ecology at the University of South Florida and at Stetson Law School.  At present, Tom holds research posts at the University of South Florida, and in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Florida.

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