I am a marine ecologist that works at the intersection of community and behavioral ecology. I focus on rocky intertidal ecosystems and am interested in how species interactions and communities are affected by climate change, environmental variation, and marine diseases. I study how predators affect prey populations and prey behavior, and am particularly interested in the resulting consequences of these key interactions for the rest of the players in the ecosystem.
As a postdoctoral scholar in Bruce Menge and Jane Lubchenco's laboratory at Oregon State University, I am studying the ecological consequences of sea star wasting disease for intertidal communities from Oregon to Central California. The disease struck sea star populations from Mexico to Alaska, wiping out 60-90% of Pisaster ochraceus individuals in most populations. Because these sea stars are the apex predator, we have observed large increases in their mussel and barnacle prey. However, this has not happened in all places, so I am using this large-scale natural experiment to determine how and when predators shape communities. This work is especially important as predators are increasingly threatened by human activities in all ecosystems.