About me

Most of the ocean floor is blanketed by soft sediments, so hard-bottom habitats are usually isolated and island-like. Any solid object - be it a reef, a lone rock, or a shipwreck - will inevitably be colonized, and these substrata provide habitats for diverse and abundant communities of sponges, anemones, crabs, mussels, and fish. As a benthic ecologist, I study the colonization and connectivity of island-like hard-bottom habitats.

Studying fouling communities in Eel Pond, Massachusetts.
Photo by Veronique LaCapra (WHOI).
My research focuses on the early life-history stages of invertebrates, including larval dispersal and recruitment. The larval phase is the only opportunity for sessile organisms to spread to or colonize new environments, but larvae and new recruits suffer high mortality because of environmental stress and predation. I seek to understand how these restrictions affect the connectivity of populations and what factors might allow some larvae to disperse farther than others. I work at all depths from the intertidal to the deep sea and I have ongoing projects at polar, temperate, and tropical latitudes.

In order to collect samples and conduct experiments, I embark on frequent expeditions to the field. I use SCUBA and small boats to reach near-shore habitats and participate in oceanographic expeditions on larger research ships to sample off-shore or deep-sea habitats with remotely operated vehicles. Much of my work involves collection of high-resolution imagery - either video or photos - from the seafloor, and so image analysis is a staple of my research. I travel frequently, both domestically and internationally, and have ongoing projects in the Fram Strait (Arctic), Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (off of Massachusetts), and Palau (western Pacific).

Currently, I am an Assistant Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Visit the blog portion of this site for the most recent information on my research activities, and contact me if you are interested in joining my lab. More information for prospective students can be found under the "Opportunities" tab of this webpage.

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