Research

I am a marine community ecologist. Broadly, I am interested in the relationship between diversity and ecosystem function. Specifically, I seek to better understand how trait diversity within ecosystems impacts ecosystem processes such as predation and herbivory, and how anthropogenic forcing affects diversity-function relationships. I employ a combination of laboratory experiments and field surveys and manipulations to answer these questions. Thus far, I have conducted research on these topics within marine ecosystems spanning kelp forests, rocky shores, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.

My dissertation in Jay Stachowicz’s Lab at the University of California – Davis explored the the causes and consequences of variation in consumer behavior on the structure and function of rocky shores and kelp forests. I conducted a longitudinal laboratory study of feeding preferences to quantify the relative importance of variability in individuals versus species in contributing to the resource use of an herbivore guild. Through additional field surveys and field manipulations, I assessed the impact of human activities and marine management practices on the behavioral traits and ecological function of predatory fishes. This latter work was conducted in partnership with Dr. Steve Lonhart, Senior Scientist at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary across state marine protected areas in the Sanctuary.

During my postdoctoral fellowship at the California Ocean Science Trust and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, I mapped the distribution and intensity of fishing effort and land-based pollutants in California. In collaboration with scientists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, I devised methods to estimate relative fishing effort by private vessels for spatially explicit fishing blocks using California Recreational Fisheries Survey data. Maps of relative fishing effort by recreational fishers were used to establish long-term monitoring sites for the MPA Monitoring Action Plan.

I am currently a postdoctoral research in the Institute of Water and Environment at Florida International University. I am working with Dr. Justin Campbell to assess variation in herbivory on seagrass beds across a latitudinal gradient. In collaboration with academic partners from thirteen different institutions, we are co-managing the Thalassia Experimental Network (TEN), a large network seagrass experiment comparing top-down versus bottom-up processes across thirteen sites in the Gulf of Mexico and greater Caribbean. While comparing the impacts of herbivory versus nutrients on seagrass ecosystem function, I am also examining multi-scale, spatiotemporal variation in predation and herbivory across the TEN network, to better understand how top-down processes vary across broad and fine-scale variability in both abiotic (temperature and light) and biotic (predator diversity, predation risk) factors.

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