Postdoctoral Research

HOW DOES THE CONTRIBUTION OF MARSH ENERGY TO ESTUARINE PRODUCTION VARY ACROSS REGIONS?

July 2018 - present

Following up on questions from my study on diet structure, Using stable isotopes (C,N,S) we will try to understand how much marsh vegetation contributes to the production of estuarine species compared to off-marsh sources such as phytoplankton and seagrasses. I will be comparing the % carbon contribution of marsh energy sources fir estuarine predators collected in Louisiana, North Carolina and New Jersey.

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DIFFERENCES IN DIET STRUCTURE OF ESTUARINE FISH FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO, SOUTH ATLANTIC BIGHT, AND MID-ATLANTIC BIGHT

November 2017 - December 2019

Estuarine fishes in the Gulf of Mexico, and East Coast of the US utilize seemingly similar habitats. In particular many estuarine fishes forage in and along Spartina alterniflora dominated marshes. Preliminary results indicate that marsh associate fishes such as killifish do not appear in the diets of estuarine predators in the Gulf of Mexico. This project focuses on combing the literature for estuarine fish diet data along 3 large geographic regions and examining what environmental parameters may be mediating differences in diet structure. 

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NOT ALL MARSHES ARE CREATED EQUAL

June 2017 - July 2019

My advisor and I recently received a 2-year grant from the NC Division of Marine FisheriesCoastal Recreational Fish Licensing (CRFL) Program to figure out how marsh islands and mainland marshes of varying sizes affect fish abundance, diversity, size and condition.

Marsh islands are islands in the estuary separated from any mainland, comprised of marsh cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, and much of the surface is flooded at high tide and exposed at low tide. Marsh islands can be used as a proxy for fragmentation to better understand how fish populations may change if mainland marshes are broken apart and become more similar to isolated islands. 

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EFFECTS OF TIDAL AMPLITUDE ON PREDATOR-PREY INTERACTIONS IN SALT MARSH HABITATS

June 2016 - July 2019

Tidal salt marshes lie at the interface of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. These habitats are considered essential fish habitat yet, nekton (fish and crabs) can only utilize the marsh platform when it is flooded. In many areas the marsh is flooded twice daily (astronomical or lunar tide) while in other areas tides are driven by wind (meterological tide). I am generally interested in how the duration of marsh flooding and the amount of water above the marsh surface alters the nekton that can access the marsh platform and ultimately how that may effect predator prey interactions.

I am conducted an experiment across North Carolina examining the predation of the marsh periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata). I am running complimentary experiments across 3 tidal regimes: Hatteras, NC (few centimeters), Beaufort, NC (0.5-1 meter), and Wilmington, NC (1.5-2 meter).

Collaborative Research Projects

Postdoctoral Research

Postdoctoral Research

For my postdoc research, I am evaluating the function of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along the coast of California for fish communities. I work on 2 distinct projects involving MPAs with Drs. Rick Starr, Scott Hamilton and many collaborators. 

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Photo Credit: MARE Group

MID-DEPTH ROCKY HABITATS

I am assessing the influence of MPA implementation on mid-depth rocky habitats (~50-500 m) for targeted and non-targeted fishes. These data have been collected by a variety of labs and via multiple video gear types (piloted submersibles, ROVs, and video landers) from 1992 - present.  

CALIFORNIA COLLABORATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH PROGRAM

Using data from a long-term community science and volunteer fishing program, the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP), I am investigating the changes in recreationally important fishes and fish community composition inside and outside established MPAs through time and with various environmental and human-induced stressors. For more information about CCFRP check out our website.

Graduate Research

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HOW DOES THE CONTRIBUTION OF MARSH ENERGY TO ESTUARINE PRODUCTION VARY ACROSS REGIONS?

Following up on questions from a previous study on fish diet structure across regions, I used stable isotopes (C,N,S) to understand how much marsh-derived energy contributes to the production of estuarine species. We compared marsh-derived sources to off-marsh sources such as phytoplankton and seagrasses. I compared the % contribution of marsh energy sources for estuarine predators across three distinct locations: Louisiana, North Carolina and New Jersey.

IMG_9960.jpg

DIFFERENCES IN DIET STRUCTURE OF ESTUARINE FISH FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO, SOUTH ATLANTIC BIGHT, AND MID-ATLANTIC BIGHT

Estuarine fishes in the Gulf of Mexico, and East Coast of the US utilize seemingly similar habitats. In particular many estuarine fishes forage in and along Spartina alterniflora dominated marshes. Results indicate that marsh associate fishes such as killifish do not appear in the diets of estuarine predators in the Gulf of Mexico. This project focused on combing the literature for estuarine fish diet data along 3 large geographic regions and examining what environmental parameters may be mediating differences in diet structure. This work has been published in Ecosphere

FullSizeRender 11.jpg

NOT ALL MARSHES ARE CREATED EQUAL

My PhD advisor and I received a 2-year grant from the NC Division of Marine FisheriesCoastal Recreational Fish Licensing (CRFL) Program to figure out how marsh islands and mainland marshes of varying sizes affect fish abundance, diversity, size and condition.

Marsh islands are islands in the estuary separated from any mainland, comprised of marsh cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, and much of the surface is flooded at high tide and exposed at low tide. Marsh islands can be used as a proxy for fragmentation to better understand how fish populations may change if mainland marshes are broken apart and become more similar to isolated islands. This work is published at Marine Ecology Progress Series. 

IMG_5153.JPG

EFFECTS OF TIDAL AMPLITUDE ON PREDATOR-PREY INTERACTIONS IN SALT MARSH HABITATS

Tidal salt marshes lie at the interface of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. These habitats are considered essential fish habitat yet, nekton (fish and crabs) can only utilize the marsh platform when it is flooded. In many areas the marsh is flooded twice daily (astronomical or lunar tide) while in other areas tides are driven by wind (meterological tide). I am generally interested in how the duration of marsh flooding and the amount of water above the marsh surface alters the nekton that can access the marsh platform and ultimately how that may effect predator prey interactions.

I conducted an experiment across North Carolina examining the predation of the marsh periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata). I am running complimentary experiments across 3 tidal regimes: Hatteras, NC (few centimeters), Beaufort, NC (0.5-1 meter), and Wilmington, NC (1.5-2 meter). This work is currently published in Estuaries and Coasts.

Collaborative Research Projects

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Concepts and Controversies in Tidal Marsh Ecology - Revisted

In the fall of 2019, I attended a workshop revisiting Concepts and Controversies in Tidal Marsh Ecology (Weinstein and Kreeger 2000). From this workshop, we identified 6 focal areas essential for the future of salt marsh ecology. I led a perspective on the importance of geographic variation on the structure and function of salt marshes. Check out the special issue of Estuaries and Coasts. 

Bitemap

Working with the Smithsonian Tennenbaum Marine Observatory Network (MarineGEO), I was involved in a project that is investigating the relative consumption rates within seagrass beds across the globe. (https://bitemap.wordpress.com/). A manuscript from this work was led by Dr. Matthew Whalen and published in PNAS.  

Impacts of the DWH oil spill on marsh food webs

As part of the Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC), I was involved in a study looking at the impacts of the BP (Deepwater Horizon) oil spill in marsh habitats. We are interested in the impact of oil sensitivity of marsh-associated species and how those sensitivities influence food webs in the Louisiana marshes. A portion of this work led by Dr. Mike McCann was published in Frontiers in the Envrionment and Ecology 

Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN)

As a research technician, I was involved in a global research program examining the ecology of eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows across the Northern Hemisphere led by Drs. Emmett Duffy (VIMS/SI), Jay Stachowicz (UC Davis) and Kevin Hovel (SDSU). We studied geographic variation seagrass genetic diversity, epifaunal communities, functional diversity, and top down effects of predators on epifauna and seagrass structure and function. I organized supplies and protocols for the entire research network and led field work at four sites in Virginia USA: the Chesapeake Bay (VA 1) at Goodwin and Allen's Islands and the VA coastal lagoons (VA2) in South Bay and Cobb Bay.