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.

Through the Institute of Water and Environment at Florida International University, I am continuing to work 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, I worked with PI Dr. Campbell to co-manage 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 these processes vary across latitude and season as a function of abiotic (temperature and light) and biotic (predator diversity, predation risk) factors.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia Department for the Oceans and Fisheries and the Hakai Institute, working jointly with Dr. Margot Hessing-Lewis, Dr. Patrick Martone, and Dr. Dan Okamoto to evaluate the ecological causes and consequences of urchin barren formation, from the lens of herbivore and predator behavior. I just completed lab experiments at the Marna Lab evaluating the effects of habitat type (kelp forest and urchin barren) and temperature on urchin activity rates, feeding behavior, and metabolism. I will be pairing these experiments with field experiments on Calvert Island comparing predation and herbivory rates and predator and herbivore communities in kelp forests and urchin barrens.

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