Directory of People

Fredrick G. Prahl

Fredrick Prahl photo
Professor Emeritus

Discipline: Ocean Ecology and Biogeochemistry
Office: Burt 210
Phone: 541-737-3969
Fax: 541-737-2064

Research Interests

Organic geochemistry.

Current Research

Developing tools to study transport, behavior, and fate of natural and pollutant organic matter in estuarine, coastal, and deep-sea environments; examining consequence of aquatic food webs and early diagenesis on the cycling and preservation of organic matter at the molecular level in natural water and sediments; evaluating what can (and perhaps cannot!) be realistically gleaned about environmental processes from stratigraphic biomarker analysis in geological records.


BS, University of Kentucky (Chemistry), 1975
MS, University of Washington (Chemical Oceanography), 1978
PhD, University of Washington, 1982


Before 1980

Prahl F.G. and Carpenter R. (1979) The role of zooplankton fecal pellets in the sedimentation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Dabob Bay, Washington. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 43, 1959-1972.

1980 through 1989

Prahl F.G., Bennett J.T. and Carpenter R. (1980) The early diagenesis of aliphatic hydrocarbons and organic matter in sedimentary particulates from Dabob Bay, Washington. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 44, 1967-1976.

Guthrie R.D., Hrovat D.A., Prahl F.G. and Swan J. (1981) Carbanions. Electron transfer vs. proton capture. 7. Electron-transfer oxidation of an amino acid derived carbanion. J. Org. Chem. 46, 498-501.

Prahl F.G. (1982) The Geochemistry of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Columbia River and Washington Coastal Sediments. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 210 pp.

Prahl F.G. and Carpenter R. (1983) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-phase associations in Washington coastal sediment. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 47, 1013-1024.

Prahl F.G. and Carpenter R. (1984) Hydrocarbons in Washington coastal sediments. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 18, 703-720.

Prahl F.G., Eglinton G., Corner E.D.S., O'Hara S.C.M. and Forsberg T.E.V. (1984) Changes in plant lipids during passage through the guts of Calanus. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 64, 317-334.

Prahl F.G., Eglinton G., Corner E.D.S. and O'Hara S.C.M. (1984) Copepod faecal pellets as a source of dihydrophytol in marine sediments. Science 224, 1235-1237.

Prahl F.G., Crecelius E.A. and Carpenter R. (1984) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Washington coastal sediments: an evaluation of atmospheric and riverine routes of introduction. Environ. Sci. Technol. 18, 687-693.

Prahl F.G., Eglinton G., Corner E.D.S. and O'Hara S.C.M. (1985) Faecal lipids released by fish feeding on zooplankton. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 65, 547-560.

Prahl F.G. (1985) Chemical evidence of differential particle dispersal in the southern Washington coastal environment. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 49, 2533-2539.

Jones R.D. and Prahl F.G. (1985) Lipid composition of a marine ammonium oxidizer grown at 5 and 25 degrees C. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 26, 157-159.

Neal A.C., Prahl F.G., Eglinton G., Corner E.D.S. and O'Hara S.C.M. (1986) Lipid changes during a planktonic feeding sequence involving unicellular algae, Elminius nauplii and adult Calanus. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 66, 1-13.

Prahl F.G. and Pinto L.A. (1987) A geochemical study of long-chain n-aldehydes in Washington coastal sediments. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 51, 1573-1582.

Barrick R.C. and Prahl F.G. (1987) Hydrocarbon geochemistry of the Puget Sound Region III. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediments. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 25, 175-191.

Prahl F.G. and Wakeham S.G. (1987) Calibration of unsaturation patterns in long-chain ketone compositions for paleotemperature assessment. Nature 330, 367-369.

Prahl F.G., Muehlhausen L.A. and Zahnle D.L. (1988) Further evaluation of long-chain alkenones as indicators of paleoceanographic conditions. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 52, 2303-2310.

Prahl F.G. and Muehlhausen L.A. (1989) Lipid biomarkers as geochemical tools for paleo-oceanographic study. In: Productivity of the Ocean: Present and Past (ed. W.H. Berger, V. Smetacek, D. Wefer) John Wiley & Sons, pg. 271-289.

Prahl F.G., Muehlhausen L.A. and Lyle M. (1989) An organic geochemical assessment of oceanographic conditions at MANOP Site C over the past 26,000 years. Paleoceanography 4, 495-510.

Prahl F.G., de Lange G.J., Lyle M. and Sparrow M.A. (1989) Postdepositional stability of long-chain alkenones under oxic and suboxic conditions. Nature 341, 434-437.

1990 through 1999

Lyle M., Prahl F.G. and Sparrow M.A. (1992) Ice age paleotemperature, upwelling and paleoproductivity in the Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Nature 355, 812-815.

Lyle M., Zahn R., Prahl F., Dymond J., Collier R., Pisias N. and Suess E. (1992) Paleoproductivity and carbon burial across the California Current: the MULTITRACERS transect, 42‚N. Paleoceanography 7, 251-272.

Prahl F.G. (1992) Prospective use of molecular paleontology to test for iron limitation on marine primary productivity. Marine Chemistry 39, 167-185.

Prahl F.G., Hayes J.M., Xie T.-M. (1992) Diploptene, an indicator of soil organic matter in Washington coastal sediments. Limnol. Oceanogr. 37, 1290-1300.

Hedges J.I. and Prahl F.G. (1993) Early diagenesis: consequences for applications of molecular biomarkers. In: Organic Geochemistry (eds. M. Engel and S.A. Macko) Plenum Press, pp. 237-253.

Prahl F.G., Collier R., Dymond J., Lyle M. and Sparrow M.A. (1993) A biomarker perspective on prymnesiophyte production in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Deep-Sea Res. 40, 2061-2076.

Prahl F.G., Ertel J.M., Goni M., Sparrow M.A. and Eversmeyer B. (1994) An assessment of terrestrial organic carbon contributions to Washington coastal sediments. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 58, 3035-3048.

Keil R.G., Montlucon D.B., Prahl F.G. and Hedges J.I. (1994) Preservation of intrinsically labile organic matter in marine sediments. Nature 370, 549-552.

de Lange G.J., van Os B., Pruysers P.A., Middelburg J.J., Castradori D., van Santvoort P., Muller P., Eggenkamp H. and Prahl F.G. (1994) Possible early diagenetic alteration of paleoproxies. In: NATO ASI Series 117: Carbon Cycling in the Glacial Ocean: Constraints on the Ocean's Role in Global Change (eds. R. Zahn et al.) Springer-Verlag Berlin, pp. 225-258.

Jasper J.P., Hayes J.M., Mix A.C. and Prahl F.G. (1994) Photosynthetic 13C fractionation and estimated CO2 levels in the central equatorial Pacific over the last 255,000 years. Paleoceanography 9, 781-798.

Simoneit B.R.T., Prahl F.G., Leif R.N. and Mao S.-Z. (1994) Alkenones in sediments of Middle Valley, Leg 139: Application as thermal sensors. Chapter XX in Proc. ODP Sci. Results Vol. 139 (eds. M.J. Mottl et al.), 479-484.

Taghon G.L., Prahl F.G., Sparrow M. and Fuller C.M. (1994) Lipid class and glycogen content of the lugworm Abarenicola pacifica in relation to age, growth rate and reproductive condition. Mar. Biol. 120: 287-295.

Cowie G.L., Hedges J.I., Prahl F.G. and de Lange G.J. (1995) Elemental and major biochemical changes across an oxidation front in a relict turbidite: a clear-cut O2 effect. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 59, 33-46.

Prahl F.G. and Coble P.G. (1995) Input and behavior of dissolved organic carbon in the Columbia River Estuary. In: Changes in Fluxes in Estuaries: Implications from Science to Management (eds. K. Dyer and B. Orth) Olsen & Olsen: Fredenborg, pp. 451-457.

Simenstad C.A., Reed D.J., Jay D.J., Baross J.A., Prahl F.G. and Small L.F. (1995) Land-marine ecosystem research in the Columbia River estuary: investigations of the couplings between physical and ecological processes within estuarine turbidity maxima. In: Changes in Fluxes in Estuaries: Implications from Science to Management (eds. K. Dyer and B. Orth) Olsen & Olsen: Fredenborg, pp. 437-444.

Huh C.-A. and Prahl F.G. (1995) Role of colloids in upper ocean biogeochemistry in the North Pacific elucidated from 238U-234Th disequilibria. Limnol. Oceanogr. 40, 528-532.

Prahl F.G., Pisias N., Sparrow M.A. and Sabin A. (1995) Assessment of sea-surface temperature at 42 degrees N in the California Current system over the last 30,000 years. Paleoceanography 10, 763-773.

Prahl F.G., Pinto L.A. and Sparrow M.A. (1996) Phytane from chemolytic analysis of modern marine sediments: a desulfurization product or not? Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 60, 1065-1073.

Prahl F.G., de Lange G.J., Scholten S. and Cowie G.L. (1997) A case of post-depositional aerobic degradation of terrestrial organic matter in turbidite deposits from the Madeira Abyssal Plain. Org. Geochem. 27, 141-152.

Doose H., Prahl F.G. and Lyle M. (1997) Biomarker temperature estimates for modern and last glacial surface waters of the California Current System between 33 and 42 degrees N. Paleoceanogr. 12, 615-622.

Prahl F.G., Small L.F. and Eversmeyer B. (1997) Biogeochemical characterization of suspended particulate matter in the Columbia River estuary. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 160, 173-184.

Miller C.B., Morgan C.A., Prahl F.G. and Sparrow M.A. (1998) Storage lipids of the copepod Calanus finmarchicus from Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine. Limnol. Oceanogr. 43, 488-497.

Prahl F.G., Small L.F., Sullivan B.A., Cordell J., Simenstad C.A., Crump B.C. and Baross J.A. (1998) Biogeochemical gradients in the lower Columbia River. Hydrobiologia 361, 37-52.

Hopkinson C.S., Buffam I., Hobbie J., Vallino J., Perdue M., Eversmeyer B., Prahl F., Covert J., Hodson R., Moran M.A., Smith E., Baross J., Crump B., Findley S. and Foreman K. (1998) Terrestrial inputs of organic matter to coastal ecosystems: an intercomparison of chemical characteristics and bioavailability. Biogeochem. 43, 211-234.

Since 2000

Prahl F.G., Dymond J. and Sparrow M.A. (2000) Annual biomarker record for export production in the central Arabian Sea. Deep-sea Res. II 47, 1581-1604.

Geyer W.R., Morris J.T., Prahl F.G., Jay D.A. (2000) Interaction between physical processes and ecosystem structure: a comparative approach. In: Estuarine Science: A Synthetic Approach to Research and Practice. (Ed: J.E. Hobbie) Island Press, Washington, DC, 177-206.

Prahl F.G., Herbert T., Brassell S.C., Ohkouchi N., Pagani M., Rosell-Mele A., Repeta D. and Sikes E. (2000) Status of alkenone paleothermometer calibration. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 2000GC000058.

Prahl F.G., Pilskaln C.H. and Sparrow M.A. (2001) Seasonal record for alkenones in sedimentary particles from the Gulf of Maine. Deep-sea Res. I 48, 515-528.

Sullivan B.E., Prahl F.G., Small L.F. and Covert P.A. (2001) Seasonality of Phytoplankton Production in the Columbia River: A Natural or Anthropogenic Pattern? Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 65, 1125-1139.

Alleau Y., Colbert D., Covert P., Haley B., Qiu X., Collier R., Falkner K., Hales B., Prahl F. and Gordon L. (2001) Th-234 applied to particle removal rates from the surface ocean: a mathematical treatment revisited. Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2855-2857.

Sinninghe Damste J.S., Rijpstra W.I.C., Hopmans E.C., Prahl F.G., Wakeham S.G. and Schouten S. (2002) Distribution of membrane lipids of planktonic Crenarchaeota. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 68, 2997-3002.

Prahl F.G., Wolfe G.V. and Sparrow M.A. (2003) Physiological impacts on alkenone paleothermometry. Paleoceanogr., 18: 2002PA000803. abstract

Prahl F.G., Cowie G.L., DeLange G.J. and Sparrow M.A. (2003) Selective organic matter preservation in 'burndown' turbidites on the Madeira Abyssal Plain. Paleoceanogr. 18: 2002PA000853. abstract

Small, L. F. and F. G. Prahl (2004). "A particle conveyor belt process in the Columbia River Estuary: evidence from chlorophyll a and particulate organic carbon." Estuaries 27(6): 999-1013.

Prahl, F. G., et al. (2005). "Ecology and biogeochemistry of alkenone production at Station ALOHA." Deep-sea Research I 52(5): 699-719.

Litzow, M. A., et al. (2006). "Climate regime shifts and reorganization of fish communities: the essential fatty acid limitation hypothesis." Marine Ecology Progress Series 315: 1-11.

Popp, B. N., et al. (2006). "A new method for estimating growth rates of alkenone-producing haptophytes." Limnology and Oceanography 4: 114-129.            

Popp, B. N., et al. (2006). "Seasonal patterns of alkenone production in the subtropical oligotrophic North Pacific." Paleoceanography 21(PA1004): doi: 10.1029/2005PA001165.

Prahl, F. G., et al. (2006). "Alkenone paleothermometry: lessons from marine sediment records off western South America." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70: 101-117.

Prahl, F. G., et al. (2006). "Unusual C35 and C36 alkenones in a paleoceanographic benchmark strain of Emiliania huxleyi." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70: 2856-2867.

Rontani, J.-F., et al. (2006). "Experimental and field evidence for thiyl radical-induced stereomutation of alkenones and other lipids in sediments and seawater." Organic Geochemistry 37: 1489-1504.         

Rontani, J.-F., et al. (2006). "Characterization of unusual alkenones and alkyl alkenoates by electron ionization gas chromatography/mass spectrometry." Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 20: 1-6.     

Rontani, J.-F., et al. (2006). "Re-examination of the double bond positions of alkenones and derivatives: biosynthetic implications." Journal of Phycology 42: 800-813.

White, A. E., et al. (2007). "Summer surface waters in the Gulf of California: prime habitat for biological N2 fixation." Global Biogeochemical Cycles 21(GB2017): doi:10.1029/2006GB002779.

Malinverno, E., et al. (2008). "Relationship of alkenones to the coccolithorphorid assemblage in Gulf of California surface waters." Deep Sea Research I 55: 1118-1130.

Rontani, J.-F., et al. (2008). "Degradation of alkenones by aerobic heterotrophic bacteria: selective or not?" Organic Geochemistry 39: 34-51.

Walinsky, S. E., et al. (2009). "Distribution and composition of organic matter in surface sediments of coastal Southeast Alaska." Continental Shelf Research 29(13): 1565-1579.

Wolhowe, M. D., et al. (2009). "Growth phase dependant hydrogen isotopic fractionation in alkenone-producing haptophytes." Biogeosciences 6: 1681-1694.      

Prahl, F. G., et al. (2010). "Systematic pattern in UK'37 - temperature residuals for surface sediments from high latitude and other oceanographic settings." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74: 131-143.

Zonneveld, K. A. F., et al. (2010). "Selective preservation of organic matter in marine environments; processes and impact on the sedimentary record." Biogeosciences 7(2): 483-511.

Herfort, L., et al. (2011). "Myrionecta rubra population genetic diversity and its cryptophyte chloroplast specificity in recurrent red tides in the Columbia River estuary." Aquatic Microbial Ecology 62: 85-97.

Rontani, J.-F., et al. (2011). "Analysis of trace amounts of alkenones in complex environmental samples by way of NaBH4/NaBD4 reduction and silylation." Organic Geochemistry 42(11): 1299-1307.

Anthony, S. E., et al. (2012). "Methane dynamics in the Willamette River, Oregon." Limnology and Oceanography 57: 1517-1530.

Fietz, S., et al. (2012). "Co-variation of crenarchaeol and branched GDGTs in globally-distributed marine and freshwater sedimentary archives." Global and Planetary Change 92-93: 275-285.              

Herfort, L., et al. (2012). "Red Waters of Myrionecta rubra are Biogeochemical Hotspots for the Columbia River Estuary with Impacts on Primary/Secondary Productions and Nutrient Cycles." Estuaries and Coasts 35(3): 878-891.

Keiluweit, M., et al. (2012). "Solvent-Extractable Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Biochar: Influence of Pyrolysis Temperature and Feedstock." Environmental Science & Technology 46(17): 9333-9341. 

Pichevin, L., et al. (2012). "Silicic acid biogeochemistry in the Gulf of California: Insights from sedimentary Si isotopes." Paleoceanography 27(PA2201): 14, doi:10.1029/2011PA002237.

Feng, X., et al. (2013). "14C and 13C characteristics of higher plant biomarkers in Washington margin surface sediments." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 105: 14-30.

Rontani, J.-F., et al. (2013). "Biotic and abiotic degradation of alkenones and implications on UK'37 paleoproxy application. A review." Organic Geochemistry 59: 95-113.

Rosell-Mele, A. and F. G. Prahl (2013). "Seasonality of temperature estimates as inferred from sediment trap data." Quaternary Science Reviews 72: 128-136.

Waldbusser, G. G., et al. (2013). "A developmental and energetic basis linking larval oyster shell formation to acidification sensitivity." Geophysical Research Letters 40(10): 2171-2176.

White, A. E., et al. (2013). "Nitrogen fixation in the Gulf of California and the Eastern Tropical North Pacific." Progress in Oceanography 109: 1-17.

Wolhowe, M. D., et al. (2014). "A biomarker perspective on coccolithophorid growth and export in a stratified sea." Progress in Oceanography 122: 65-76.

Praetorius, S. K., et al. (2015). "North Pacific deglacial hypoxic events linked to abrupt ocean warming." Nature 527: 362-366.              

Wolhowe, M. D., et al. (2015). "Alkenone dD as an ecological indicator: a culture and field study of physiologically-controlled chemical and hydrogen isotopic variation in C37 alkenones." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 162(1): 166-182.

Gregg, T., et al. (2015). "Suspended particulate matter transport of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the lower Columbia River and its estuary." Limnology and Oceanography 60(6): 1935-1949.

Puigcorbe, V., et al. (2015). "Small phytoplankton drive high summertime carbon and nutrient export in the Gulf of California and Eastern Tropical North Pacific." Global Biogeochem. Cycles 29(8): 1309-1332.

Brunner, E. L., et al. (2016). "A longitudinal study of Pacifc oyster (Crassostrea gigas) larval development: isotope shifts during early shell formation reveal sub-lethal energetic stress." Marine Ecology Progress Series 555: 109-123.               

Praetorius, S., et al. (2016). "Interaction between climate, volcanism, and isostatic rebound in Southeast Alaska during the last deglaciation." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 452: 79-89.      

Technical Reports

Prahl, F.G. (1986) Organic Chemical Markers of Dredge Material Dispersal: A Feasibility Study. Technical Report submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District (DACW57-86-M-2386), 15 pg.

Prahl F.G. (1989) Further Development of Organic Geochemical Tools to Monitor Dredged Material Dispersal in Coastal Environments. Technical Report submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District (PL-88-0059), 10 pg.

Prahl F.G. and Sparrow M.A. (1991) Chemical Assessment of Dredged Material Contributions and Dispersal at Site F. Technical Report submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District (DACW5791C-0022), 10 pg.

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