The Benthic Microbe group is investigating the response of the marine sediment microbial community, which includes the microphytobenthos (MPB; photosynthetic microalgae and cyanobacteria), to oiling. This community plays a critical role in primary production and sediment oxygenation and has shown a wide tolerance for oil exposure with varied community impacts. The Microbe group has hypothesized that the taxonomic and functional diversity of the sediment microbial community will depend on habitat type, mixing of sediments and any previous exposure to oil. They also hypothesize that taxonomic and functional diversity will decrease in response to oil and that high taxonomic and functional diversity before oil exposure will lead to a more resilient community. Field collections include sediment cores that are being taken for each location in multiple habitats (salt marsh, mangrove, unvegetated sediments and seagrasses). Sediment cores are also collected for mesocosm experiments in which oil exposure will be manipulated and the resulting taxonomic and functional diversity of the microbial community measured.