Current Research


I am currently interested in feedbacks between nearshore benthic communities and coastal oceanographic dynamics. Carbonate chemistry in coastal marine systems is controlled by a complex mixture of biological and physical processes. I'm investigating how these processes interact to produce variability in the conditions coastal plants and animals experience, and what this variability means for these organisms.


Ongoing projects will investigate the interplay of nutritional condition with environmental stressors to native and non-native species of oysters (Ostrea lurida and Crassostrea gigas, respectively). I will combine measurements of environmental parameters including temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and pH with morphological and physiological (fatty acid composition) analyses of oyster performance. One factor being investigated is the effect of habitat-modifying macrophytes (eelgrass, Zostera marina, specifically) on the environmental elements determining the health of these oysters. Stay tuned for updates!

Other ongoing research includes:

  • The influence of drift algae capture by Giant Red Urchins on benthic community composition in the San Juan Islands. During my stint in Friday Harbor, we found that red urchins (Mesocentrotus franciscanus) exist to depths greater than 100 meters and don't move around much. The sedentary lifestyle of urchins in this area leads to changes in the benthic community directly associated with them. With the help of many great undergrads and researchers at FHL, I am continuing to investigate exactly how much algae these urchins catch, what determines the rates at which they catch drift algae, and what consequences this has for the benthic community.

 

  • The western Antarctic Peninsula hosts a thriving benthic community supported by a benthic macroalgal assemblage as productive as the more recognizable kelp forests of California. Within these rich macroalgal beds is an extremely diverse community of amphipods. However, the nature of this association isn't exactly clear. The greatest abundance of amphipods occur on chemically defended species that probably aren't grazed by the Pods. Instead, they are likely seeking refuge from omnivorous fish, living in a mutualism with the macroalgae in which the macroalgae provide safe harbor and the pods graze back fouling epiphytes and endophytes growing on the macroalgae. I am working with a number of researchers to determine what trophic relationships exist in this community, and how environmental change might influence these interactions.