Marine Biodiversity Lab

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


September 11, 2019 | Congratulations, Dr. Elsberry!

Laura defended her dissertation on August 23, just submitted it to the UCI library, and is now officially Dr. Elsberry! Laura’s PhD research evaluated changes in species associations, foundation species roles, and population demographics of organisms – especially seaweeds – along the California coast. She has already begun teaching ecology at California State University, Fullerton. … [ Read More ]

July 25, 2019 | Kelp have major benefits for the environment

Kelps – large brown seaweeds in the Order Laminariales – are emerging as an important mariculture crop in Alaska. Matt, who grew up in Alaska, was recently interviewed for an article in The Guardian, and he described environmental effects, potential for carbon dioxide absorption, and advances in understanding seaweed life cycles.

November 13, 2018 | A facilitation cascade: tubeworms allow kelps to live where they shouldn’t

Hakai magazine recently profiled Matt’s work describing how northern feather duster worms, which build strong tubes from sediment and slime, provide habitat for kelp to attachment. Kelp, large brown algae which provide important food and habitat for many marine organisms, typically need to grow on rocky bottoms. However, Matt found them growing on a mudflat, … [ Read More ]

May 9, 2018 | Setting up our tide pool herbivore experiment

We have transitioned from monitoring tide pools to setting up our experiments to evaluate the top-down vs. bottom-up roles of herbivores as mediators of primary productivity. We set up herbivore-exclusion fences at our Southern California sites this week and will head north to Central and Northern California later this month. Well done, team!  

August 31, 2017 | New Grant: Context-dependency of top-down vs. bottom-up effects of herbivores on marine primary producers

Humans are modifying marine food webs both from the top-down, by reducing consumer abundances, and from the bottom-up, by adding nutrients to coastal habitats. Predicting these impacts is complicated because herbivores affect primary producers both from the top-down, by eating them, and from the bottom-up, by recycling nutrients and facilitating the recruitment of algae into local … [ Read More ]

July 12, 2017 | New Publications

We’ve been busy in the Bracken Lab, with six new papers out this year. They include a meta-analysis evaluating the effects of warming experiments on biodiversity (Gruner et al. 2017), a study quantifying the effects of an invasive seaweed on community structure and ecosystem functioning (Ramsay-Newton et al. 2017), a paper highlighting the neglected importance … [ Read More ]

May 25, 2017 | More stuff on the beach

More stuff washed up on Orange County beaches last week: the stretch of sand just north of the Newport Pier was carpeted with little bean clams (Donax gouldii) last Wednesday. By Thursday, most of the clams had re-buried in the sand, but Matt went out to take a look and chatted with reporters from CBS … [ Read More ]

December 1, 2016 | Squishy stuff on the beach

These funny little squishy, translucent blobs washed up on Orange County beaches earlier this week, prompting interest and alarm from local beachgoers. After much head scratching and a few wrong turns (nope, they are not salps), Matt and others figured out that they were burrowing sea cucumbers: absolutely harmless, intriguing, and super-cute. Matt was interviewed by and … [ Read More ]

September 6, 2016 | Ph.inally Ph.inisheD.

Congratulations to Kylla Benes! Kylla successfully defended her dissertation today, giving a fantastic presentation about her work to understand intraspecific variation in the seaweed Fucus vesiculosus along tide-height gradients along the coastline of the Gulf of Maine. She melded genetics, physiology, and field experiments to tell a compelling story about how environmental context and dispersal mediate … [ Read More ]

August 9, 2016 | Nutrient uptake by seaweeds

Newly published research by graduate student Kylla Benes highlights the role of tidal elevation and nutrient availability in mediating nitrate uptake by the intertidal seaweed Fucus vesiculosus. In her paper, just out online in the Journal of Phycology, Kylla reports on observations and experiments that describe how acclimation and adaptation to differences in nitrate availability associated with tide height … [ Read More ]