About me

I am a benthic ecologist specializing in sessile invertebrate communities. I work at all depths from the intertidal to the deep sea, where I investigate the processes of larval dispersal, recruitment, and succession to understand how communities assemble and take shape over time.

Much of my previous research has taken place in Arctic and temperate cold-water habitats, where animals must contend with environmental stressors in addition to the biological forces that shape their communities. Recently, I have observed a number of organisms in temperate and polar environments dispersing outside their normal range. While larvae that disperse into colder environments may not be able to survive through metamorphosis, there is the potential for these young individuals to survive as global temperatures continue to warm. I am beginning to investigate the mechanisms that facilitate poleward range expansion of invertebrate species.

Studying fouling communities in Eel Pond, Massachusetts.
Photo by Veronique LaCapra (WHOI).
When larvae disperse farther than they are "supposed to," they can colonize habitats that are not "supposed to" be there. One excellent example is shipwrecks, which form island-like habitats on the seafloor. The few larvae that disperse farther away from their parents to colonize wrecks form unique communities. Wrecks could also serve as stepping-stones to facilitate dispersal of some species between habitats that were not previously connected. Using SCUBA, underwater cameras, and remotely-operated vehicles for sampling, I am beginning to study the numerous shipwrecks in Cape Cod Bay and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as a model system to understand these dynamics.

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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