I’m a quantitative ecologist who primarily studies mutualistic or symbiotic communities, but also population dynamics, species interactions, and ecological networks. I’m currently focusing on coral reef communities – the associations between corals and their symbionts, coral population structures and dynamics, and the effects of disturbances – but I also dabble in plant interactions with pollinators and herbivores, conservation of native California dune species, and nearly anything that an enthusiastic collaborator proposes.
Coral-Symbiodinium symbioses were previously believed to be associations between several coral species and one general symbiont, but research has revealed a great deal of Symbiodinium diversity. Moreover, association patterns and functional outcomes are dependent on numerous factors. My current work focuses on describing the association patterns within coral-Symbiodinium communities, understanding the properties that influence community stability, and contrasting the perspectives provided by dominant and subdominant symbiont sampling. This work is done in collaboration with the Gates lab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and stems from my participation in the “Reefs of the Future” working group at NCEAS (thanks to a generous invitation from Profs. Ruth Gates and Peter Edmunds).
Coral population dynamics have been of increasing interest due to increasing environmental stressors, such as temperature extremes and ocean acidification. In collaboration with Marissa Baskett and Kevin Gross, I’m using mathematical models to explore how coral life-history traits, coral community composition, and disturbance characteristics influence coral persistence.