I am interested in benthic subtidal ecology, particularly community ecology and the role of primary producers in marine ecosystems. Off southern California, kelp forests are a spectacular example of marine ecosystems, rivaling coral reefs in beauty and biodiversity. With the Santa Barbara Coastal Long-Term Ecological Research program I study the dynamics of different groups of primary producers, including kelp, understory macroalgae, and phytoplankton, how these groups interact competitively, and their roles in coastal food webs. We have shown that understory algae can be an important component of primary production in the kelp forest that increases substantially when kelp is removed by storms. I am currently working with Mark Page to determine the role of kelp detritus and phytoplankton as trophic resources for benthic suspension feeders using stable isotopes, polyunsaturated fatty acids as dietary markers, and other tools. With Hunter Lenihan, I am also involved in the UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanomaterials (CEIN). We are measuring impacts of nanomaterials as emerging contaminants to marine ecosystems, using phytoplankton and suspension feeders as model organisms.
Assistant Research Biologist, Marine Science Institute