Charles Birkeland

Graduate Affiliate Faculty

Coral reef ecology and management, marine community ecology






Research Interests

My research has been mainly on coral reef communities: 1) why some recover from damage by human activities and others do not; and 2) how coral reef resources should be managed. For the first topic, I’ve focused on the interactions of crustose coralline algae, coral recruitment and herbivorous fishes, and especially how these interactions are affected by overfishing and by nutrient input. For the second topic, I’ve focused on the biological characteristics and life histories of the targeted coral-reef species and on the nature of ecosystem processes of coral reefs. These aspects are both so different from those of other marine communities that the resources of coral reefs must be managed in a fundamentally different way.

Selected Publications

Birkeland C, Green A, Lawrence A, Coward G, Vaeoso M, Fenner D (2021) Different resiliencies in coral communities over ecological and geological time scales in American Samoa. Marine Ecology Progress Series 673: 55-68

Birkeland C (2018) Global status of coral reefs: in combination, disturbances and stressors become ratchets. In: Sheppard CRC (ed) World Seas: an environmental evaluation, Volume 3, Chapter 2. Elsevier, Oxford p 35-56

Birkeland C (2017) Working with, not against, coral-reef fisheries. Coral Reefs 36: 1-11

Birkeland C (ed) (2015) Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene. Springer, Dordrecht, xv + 271 p

Birkeland C, Miller MW, Piniak GA, Eakin CM, Weijerman M, McElhany P, Dunlap M, Brainard RE (2013) Safety in numbers? Abundance may not safeguard corals from increasing carbon dioxide. BioScience 63: 967-974

Birkeland C, Green A, Fenner D, Squair C, Dahl AL (2013) Substratum stability and coral reef resilience: insights from 90 years of disturbances on a reef in American Samoa. Micronesica 2013-06: 1 – 16

Forsman ZH, Birkeland C (2009) Porites randalli: a new coral species (Scleractinia, Poritidae) from American Samoa. Zootaxa 2244: 51-59

Birkeland C, Craig P, Fenner D, Smith L, Keine WE, Riegl B (2008) Geologic setting and ecological functioning of coral reefs in American Samoa. In: Riegl B, Dodge RE (eds) Coral Reefs of the USA. Springer, NY p 737-761

Birkeland C (2008) Coastal saltwater ecosystems. In: Mueller-Dombois D, Bridges KW, Daehler CC (eds) Biodiversity assessment of tropical island ecosystems. PABITRA Manual for Interactive Ecology and Management. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu p 133-151

Birkeland C, Dayton PK (2005) The importance in fishery management of leaving the big ones. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20: 356-358

Birkeland C (2004) Ratcheting down the coral reefs. BioScience 54: 1021-1027