Fouling Communities Across Tomales Bay, CA

Fouling communities consist of diverse assemblages of filter feeding invertebrates. These communities include ascidians, barnacles, bivalves, bryozoans, hydrozoans, sponges, and other taxa. I have been monitoring fouling community composition across the estuarine gradient of Tomales Bay since the summer of 2017. I am interested in how community composition varies across years due to the influence of climate change on salinity, temperature, and other oceanographic conditions. Given that many fouling species are non-native and cause ecological and economic damage, understanding how climate change influences their distribution is especially important.

Effects of Predation and Habitat on Fouling Community Composition in Tomales Bay, CA

While most studies have focused on fouling communities at docks and marinas, I am interested in how fouling species have spread into surrounding natural habitats. Using a combination of field surveys and manipulative experiments, I am examining how the effects of predation on fouling community composition differ inside and outside of seagrass across Tomales Bay. Additionally, I will be examining how the effects of predation vary over multiple stages of fouling community development inside and outside of seagrass. Fouling species can grow on eelgrass, negatively affecting eelgrass growth. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that might influence fouling species success is important in protecting this beneficial ecosystem.

Variation in Predation Intensity Across Coastal Caribbean Habitats in Panama

This research is part of a short-term fellowship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. By deploying settlement plates and conducting predation exposure experiments, I am learning how effects of predators on fouling community composition vary across mangrove, reef, and seagrass habitats in Puerto Lindo, Panama. Additionally, this research will determine how the effects of predation vary temporally across these habitats. Using GoPros and observational surveys, I will also determine predator identity and which fouling species are least susceptible to predation. Understanding which habitats have higher rates of predation will allow us to better predict which habitats have a greater ability to resist biological invasions by invasive fouling species.