Physiological Ecology of Reef Algae and Corals with Related Issues in Marine Ecology
St. John 614A
I am interested in the physiological ecology of reef algae and corals with related issues in marine ecology. In particular these areas are (1) development and use of non-invasive methods to characterize photosynthetic, photoprotective pigments and growth of reef algae and corals, (2) physiological ecology of adults, motile and non-motile stages in algal life histories, (3) settlement strategies by algae, and (4) physiological strategies employed by alien or invasive native species to allow for ecological success.
A unifying theme in most of my research is to understand the functional significance of physiological and morphological features of plants. For example, How can reef algae that are essentially shade-loving plants live in one of the highest quantum flux environments in the world? or How do many alien or invasive native reef algae expand distributions so rapidly?
Arriving in Hawai'i years ago, I was impressed by two other aspects of life here - how diverse our Hawaiian marine flora is and how little is known of O'ahu or outer islands from a marine plant view. Large stretches of coastline on all outer islands have never been visited by an algal specialist. As the loss of pristine coastal environments continues, species certainly will be lost. Understanding this diversity, the ecological processes of species extinction and the mechanisms regulating species diversity in island ecosystems are long range goals. Because of my SCUBA interests, I have taken advantage of saturation diving research projects in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo where we study the ecology of two species of Halimeda along with a team of colleagues from five other institutions. This work gives us great comparative insight into the Hawaiian reef ecosystem.
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