I am interested in the ecological dynamics of urban marine ecosystems. More than half of the world’s population now lives in coastal areas and population growth in these areas is continuing to rise rapidly. To support this growth, we use a variety of manmade structures in coastal construction and development. Riprap is the rocky material and rubble used to construct jetties, seawalls, and breakwaters. Despite how common riprap installations are in coastal regions, we know very little about how they influence the marine environment.
My dissertation research focuses on ecological processes on subtidal riprap fields in urban areas and their impact on surrounding soft sediment communities. Specifically, I am using field experiments and quantitative models to address the following questions:
· How does the introduction of riprap into soft sediment environments alter infaunal community structure?
· What species are most important in structuring the benthic community dynamics on subtidal riprap and why?
· How do resources move between riprap habitats and adjacent soft sediment environments, and how does the influx of resources affect the community structure within each ecosystem?
B.S. Biology (2004) – Emory University
M.S. Fisheries Science (2007) – Virginia Tech