Deborah Steinberg homepage

Deborah K. Steinberg

CSX Professor

Email: [[debbies]]
Phone: (804) 684-7838
Office: Andrews Hall 328
Section: Coastal & Ocean Processes
Interests: Zooplankton ecology; coastal and deep sea food webs/marine "snow."
Website: {{, Zooplankton Ecology}}

  • B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1987
  • Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1993
Research Interests

My research interests are in zooplankton ecology and physiology, coastal and deep-sea food webs, and carbon and nutrient cycling. Much of my research program focuses on how zooplankton influence cycling of nutrients and organic matter, and how climate affects long-term change in zooplankton communities. Our laboratory has been involved in a number of projects with this theme, including the role of zooplankton vertical migration in transport of nutrients, the ecology of gelatinous zooplankton "blooms" and their affect on fluxes of organic matter, the importance of zooplankton in the cycling of dissolved organic matter, mesopelagic zooplankton and particle flux, and the effects of mesoscale eddies and a large river plume on zooplankton community structure. We are also using long-term data sets from the Western Antarctic Peninsula and the Sargasso Sea off Bermuda to study the effects of climate change on zooplankton communities, and how these community changes may affect ocean food webs and biogeochemistry.  I have worked in many marine environments including coastal California, the Antarctic, the Sargasso Sea, the subtropical and subarctic North Pacific, the North Atlantic off western Europe, the Amazon River plume, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Current Projects
  • LTER Palmer, Antarctica (PAL): Land-shelf-ocean connectivity, ecosystem resilience, and transformation in a sea-ice influenced pelagic ecosystem (NSF OPP) 
  • The Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study: Sustained Biogeochemical, Ecosystem, and Ocean Change Observations and Linkages in the Subtropical North Atlantic (NSF OCE)
  • EXPORTS: Zooplankton-Mediated Export Pathways: Quantifying Fecal Pellet Export and Active Transport by Diel and Ontogenetic Vertical Migration in the North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (NASA)

Selected Publications

For Full CV Click Here

For Google Scholar Citations Click Here

  • Steinberg, D. K., Stamieszkin, K., Maas, A. E., Durkin, C. A., Passow, U., Estapa, M. L., Omand, M.M., McDonnell, A.M.P., Karp-Boss, L., Galbraith, M., and Siegel, D. A. (2023). The outsized role of salps in carbon export in the subarctic Northeast Pacific Ocean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 37, e2022GB007523.
  • Behrenfeld, M.J., P. Gaube, A. DellaPenna, R. T. O’Malley, W. J. Burt, Y. Hu, P. S. Bontempi, D. K. Steinberg, E. S. Boss, D. A. Siegel, C. A. Hostetler, P. D. Tortell, & S. C. Doney (2019) Global satellite-observed daily vertical migrations of ocean animals. Nature.
  • Thibodeau, P. S., D. K. Steinberg, S. E. Stammerjohn, and C. Hauri (2018) Environmental controls on pteropod biogeography along the Western Antarctic Peninsula.  Limnology and Oceanography. doi: 10.1002/lno.11041.
  • Steinberg, D.K. and M. R. Landry (2017) Zooplankton and the ocean carbon cycle. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 9: 14.1-14.32.  doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015924
  • Steinberg, D.K., K. E. Ruck, M. R. Gleiber, L. M. Garzio, J. S. Cope, K. S. Bernard, S. E. Stammerjohn, O.M.E. Schofield, L. B. Quetin, and R. M. Ross (2015) Long-term (1993-2013) changes in macrozooplankton off the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Deep-Sea Research I, 101:  54-70.
  • Conroy, B. J., D. K. Steinberg,  M. R. Stukel,  J. I. Goes, and V. J. Coles (2015)  Meso- and microzooplankton grazing in the Amazon River plume and western tropical North Atlantic. Limnology and Oceanography, doi: 10.1002/lno.10261
  • Stone, J.P. and D. K. Steinberg (2014) A long-term time-series study of salp population dynamics in the Sargasso Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series.
  • Steinberg, D. K., M. W. Lomas, and J. S. Cope (2012) Long-term increase in mesozooplankton biomass in the Sargasso Sea: Linkage to climate and implications for food web dynamics and biogeochemical cycling.  Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 26, GB1004, doi:10.1029/2010GB004026
  • Condon, R. H., D. K. Steinberg,  P. A. del Giorgio, T. C. Bouvier, D. A. Bronk, H. W. Ducklow (2011) Jellyfish blooms result in a major microbial respiratory sink of carbon in marine systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015782108.
  • Saba, G. K., D. K. Steinberg, D. A. Bronk (2011) The relative importance of sloppy feeding, excretion, and fecal pellet leaching in the release of dissolved carbon and nitrogen by Acartia tonsa copepods. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 404: 47-56.
  • Steinberg, D.K., B. A. S. Van Mooy, K. O. Buesseler, P. P. Boyd, T. Kobari, and D. M. Karl  (2008) Bacterial vs. zooplankton control of sinking particle flux in the ocean's twilight zone.  Limnology and Oceanography.  53 (4): 1327-1338.
Students and Post-Doctoral Associates
Current Students
Past Students
Current Post-Docs

Dr. Karen Stamieszkin, Zooplankton pathways for carbon export, NASA EXPORTS program

Past Post-Docs
Courses Taught
  • MSCI 501D, 401D: Fundamentals of Marine Science, Biological Oceanography
  • MSCI 506: Scientific Communication, with Eric Hilton
  • MSCI 652: Marine Plankton Ecology
  • MSCI 660: Zooplankton Ecology
  • MSCI 698: Special Topics (various)- e.g., Dissolved Organic Matter in Aquatic Systems, with Deborah Bronk; Respiration in Aquatic Ecosystems, with Elizabeth Canuel
Awards & Honors
  • 2015 - State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award
  • 2014 - CSX Eminent Scholar Professorship/ Chair in Marine Science
  • 2014 - William & Mary Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence
  • 2013 - William & Mary Tack Faculty lecture
  • 2012 - Sverdrup Award lecture, Ocean Sciences, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • 2007 - Winner of William and Mary Raft Debate
  • 2006 - Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Marine Science
  • 2005 - College of William & Mary Class of 1964 Distinguished Associate Professor of Marine Science
  • 2005 - Elected to the Board of Trustees, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Inc.
  • 1987 - Antarctic Service Award and Medal, U.S. Department of the Navy
Professional Memberships
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
  • The Oceanography Society (TOS)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)