As a coastal marine ecologist with broad interests in community and population dynamics, I study basic questions concerning the influence of environmental and anthropogenic drivers on community and population dynamics of marine animals across a diversity of shorelines, latitudes and time scales. I work with colleagues from UCSB and around the world to investigate ecological connectivity, marine conservation and restoration, responses to and recovery from disturbance, species interactions, historical ecology, and the physical and biological drivers of community structure and function in coastal ecosystems. Much of my research has focused on sandy beach ecosystems, investigating numerous components of beaches, their ecology, food webs and ecological functions ranging from the bottom up effects and nutrient cycling implications of macroalgal wrack subsidies to exploring the role of shorebirds as ecosystem indicators and intertidal predators. I also collaborate with coastal managers on more applied studies designed to increase our understanding of and evaluate ecological impacts and implications of widespread human alterations of the coast, including urban development, shoreline armoring, beach grooming, oil spills, intertidal recovery dynamics, restoration strategies, and climate change. This applied component of my research is intended to help develop an ecological framework that may be used to inform coastal conservation and management of sandy beaches and other coastal ecosystems. Communicating results of scientific research and its potential application to environmental issues in a form that is accessible to students and the broader public is a key component of this effort.
Associate Research Biologist, Marine Science Institute