Coastal and Marine Ecology
Advancing understanding of positive species interactions in coastal environments
I am a marine scientist and currently an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology at the University of Florida. My work focuses on positive ecological interactions (facilitation and mutualism) involving coastal foundation species. I place particular emphasis on bivalve-seagrass relationships and the roles of chemosymbiotic bivalves (solemyid and lucinid clams), which are understudied contributors to primary production and biogeochemical cycling in soft-sediment marine ecosystems. I use survey data, field studies, and laboratory experiments to understand:
the effects of the life habits of bivalves on sediment biogeochemistry;
variability in the form and strength of positive species interactions in space and time;
the effects of positive species interactions on the resistance of foundation species to environmental stressors; and
how resource (e.g. nutrient) availability interacts with microbial diversity and gene expression in plant-animal-microbe symbioses to affect organismal and ecosystem functioning.
Ultimately, I seek to identify how and where this research may be applied toward coastal conservation, fisheries, aquaculture, and restoration goals.