Before my current position, I was a researcher at the University of Washington, the University of New Hampshire, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. I've examined the diets of anemones, the impacts of introduced algae on biodiversity, and studied the ontogenetic shift in shell morphology of snails.
Biology and ecology of the sea anemones and corals in the San Juan Archipelago, Washington
Research done while I was a graduate student at the University of Washington
One of the most conspicuous and dominant groups of suspension feeders in temperate and tropical areas is hexacorallians (corals and anemones). I examined the effects of light, flow, depth, substratum slope, predation pressure, and temperature on the distribution and abundance of seven temperate hexacorallians. We found that depth, light-levels, and flow rate had significant impacts on distribution, while predation and temperature had little effect. Depth and light are strongly correlated, and both have a strong relationship with algal cover. Most hexacorallians were conspicuously missing from high algal cover surfaces. Additionally, nearly every species increased in density with increased flow.
I also examined the diet of the conspicuous and competitively dominant giant plumose anemone by metabarcoding their gut contents (pub #8). Metabarcoding found many more taxa in their gut contents than previous analyses, which used visual techniques instead. Additionally, 10% of the anemones' diet was terrestrial - they were eating ants - which highlights an interesting linkage between terrestrial and marine food webs.
In order to track individual anemones for bioenergetic modeling and growth and survival studies, I also created a new method for marking anemones - injecting one of two vital stains into the body cavity of an anemone to turn it an identifiable color (pub #2).
Photo credit: Timothy Dwyer
Rapid assessment survey of marine species at New England Bays and Harbors - Rhode Island to Maine
Research done while I was working at the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
Introduced species have increasingly been recognized as a concern as they have become more prevalent in marine and terrestrial environments. The ability of introduced species to alter population, community, and ecosystem structure and function, as well as cause significant economic damage is well documented. Having a monitoring network in place to track new introductions and distributional changes of introduced species is critical for effective management, as these efforts may be more successful when species are detected before they have the chance to become established. A rapid assessment survey is one such method for early detection of introduced species. With rapid assessment surveys, a team of taxonomic experts record and monitor marine species–providing a baseline inventory of native, introduced, and cryptogenic species and document range expansions of previously identified species.
I helped organize the fifth New England rapid assessment, provided taxonomic expertise on cnidarians, and organized the data into a government report. We found 39 introduced species, six of which were newly documented introduced species. They were the anemone Aiptasiogeton eruptaurantia, the brown alga Colpomenia peregrina, the hydroid Hydrodendron sp., the worm Neodexiospira brasiliensis, the shrimp Palaemon macrodactylus, and the bryozoan Tricellaria inopinata.