Kate Salmon

Salmon_photo smallPhD student

Email: kate.salmon-8AT8-open.ac.uk

OU Web page


Research Profile

I am a NERC funded PhD student researching into how current ocean acidification is impacting planktonic foraminifera (PF) in the modern ocean.  PF make up 23 to 56% of the total open marine calcite flux and play an important role in CO2 burial.  Also, PF shells are extensively used as proxies for past changes in seawater chemistry, temperature and ocean circulation.  However, the environmental controls on their ecology, calcification and lifecycle are still being debated in the literature.

My study aims to clarify this by quantifying the effect of environmental perturbations on PF flux, calcification and trace element composition changes in modern PF using measured physical changes in the water column from the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series.   Sediment trap samples from 1998 to 2010 collected by the Ocean Flux Program on a biweekly resolution can be combined with monthly hydrographic data, to monitor changes on a seasonal and interannual timescale.  The changes that I am researching fall into 3 broad themes:

  • What controls the abundance of PF?
  • What controls changes in shell weight and shell thickness of PF?
  • What controls the changes in trace element incorporation of PF?

This modern dataset can then be compared to pre-industrial surface samples collected by the Challenger Expedition in 1872 to 76, as well as Holocene surface sediment to monitor any change in PF flux/calcification/trace element composition since the post-industrial increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.  The modern record generated in this study will give us a better understanding of the ecology of PF, which will be vital for their use as proxies in the geological record.


  • 2008-9 MSc. Oceanography, University of Southampton, Distinction.
  • 2005-8 BSc. Geology (Hons), University of Durham


Pallavi Anand, Phil SextonMaureen Conte, (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, US ) and Jelle Bijma (Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany)


 Academic journal articles

  • Sayer, Emma J.; Featherstone, Helen C.; Gosling, William D.; [Bird, Frazer]; [Fawdon, Peter]; [Gunn, Leanne];[Salmon, Kate]; [Dixon, Sophie] and BES Roadies, (2014). Sex & Bugs & Rock 'n Roll: getting creative about public engagement. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 29(2) pp. 65–67.


  • Salmon, K., Anand, P., Sexton, P., Bijma, J., (2014) ‘Testing controls on planktonic foraminifera shell thickness and trace element incorporation’ Geochemistry Research in Progress Meeting, Open University
  • Salmon, K., Anand, P., Sexton, P., Bijma, J., Conte, M., (2013) ‘Controls on changes in shell parameters of modern planktonic foraminifera’ Postgraduate Research in Marine and Earth Science conference, University of Southampton.
  • Salmon, K., Anand, P., Sexton, P., Bijma, J., Conte, M., (2013) ‘Environmental controls on seasonal changes in planktonic foraminiferal abundance, shell mass and geochemistry’, International Conference of Palaeoceanography (ICP-Sitges)

Popular science articles

  • [2014] ‘Olivine: the answer to climate change and ocean acidification?’ Geology Today, vol. 30, issue 2, 47-48
  • [2013] ‘The long and winding road’, British Ecological Society bulletin, vol. 44, issue 4, 16-19
  • [2013] ‘The fight to stand still’, Ionic Magazine, Issue 5
  • [2013] ‘Core blimey!’, Rockwatch.
  • [2013] ‘The future is green, it’s olivine!’, Rockwatch.
  • [2012] ‘ The science of surf’, Rockwatch, Issue 61
  • [2011] ‘Cook up some pancake rocks’, Rockwatch, Issue 58
  • [2009] ‘At the cutting edge of glaciers’, Rockwatch, Issue 51
  • [2008] ‘Geological food for thought’, Rockwatch, Issue 49