Newly published in Global Ecology and Biogeography, research by Alli Cramer, a 2020 doctoral graduate of WSU’s School of the Environment, and WSU Professor Stephen Katz revealed a new approach which sorts biomes based on their life-supporting potential and stability of the sea floor. Alli reviewed more than 130 studies to weigh variables such as light, depth, and nutrients across seven biomes incorporating dozens of environments, including coral reefs, kelp beds, ocean ice, and deep abyssal plains. Analyzing the data inductively, rather than proceeding from an initial hypothesis, she found biomes were most clearly sorted by two strong variables: gross primary production, a measure of the energy in the food web; and substrate mobility, or the movement and composition of the ocean floor. This represents a new synthesis that integrates metabolic energy flowing through communities with physical forcing of the abiotic environment as structuring forces in ecosystem organization. This paper was some really creative science and it is especially satisfying as this paper started out as an answer to a question on Alli’s qualifying exam.