I am generally interested in the bottom up factors (e.g., nutrients) v. top down factors (i.e., consumers) in regulating ecosystem function and stability. The recovery of sea otters to estuaries throughout their current range in the northeast Pacific presents an unprecedented opportunity to examine predator recovery in systems that are under threat from anthropogenic stressors.
The world’s coasts under threat from numerous anthropogenic stressors, operating on many different scales from local (due to coastal development) to global (due to climate change). One of the goals of my research is to determine the relative impacts of multiple stressors on coastal ecosystems, and the factors driving their resilience.
Certain species have been found to disproportionately influence communities and ecosystems, and have been termed “foundation species”. I research the role these foundation species (kelps, seagrass and marsh) in driving community and diversity patterns, and in turn the key drivers of foundation species functioning and persistence.
A major goal of my research is to inform management and restoration of coastal ecosystems and processes. My research has been used by managers to inform water quality policy, recovery of threatened top predator populations, the nursery function of west coast estuaries, and species interactions leading to enhanced seagrass restoration.