Feedbacks Between Microbes and Macroscopic Communities in Coral Reefs
Photo credit: Maria Faust
For my dissertation I am investigating how microbes respond to the benthic (seafloor) community in coral reefs, and how these microbes influence ecological processes like the competition between corals and algae for space. My work focuses on both prokaryotic microbes like bacteria, as well as eukaryotic microalgae, including several species of toxic dinoflagellates that cause ciguatera poisoning in people. (More here.)
How Spatial Aggregation of Habitat Patches Affects Colonization Patterns of Mobile Species
Inspired by contrasting results in previous studies on the effects of habitat availability on colonization patterns of mobile species, I conducted a field experiment to investigate how the spatial aggregation of larval habitats influences egg-laying behavior in Aedes mosquitoes. This work has implications for general ecological theory, ecosystem restoration projects, and for public health, as Aedes mosquitoes can act as vectors human diseases such as Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya.
Ocean Acidification & Coral Reefs
For my master's research I studied how physiological processes like photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification influence one another in calcifying coral reef organisms, and how environmental factors like light, temperature, and pCO2 modulate these relationships. The goal of this research was to provide insights as to how coral reef calcifiers will be influenced by ocean acidification and climate change in the future, including how their distributions may shift across depth zones and light environments. (More here.)
Fishing Pressure Effects on Coral Reef Benthic Communities
As a research assistant at NCEAS I assisted with a project characterizing benthic (seafloor) community composition at Kiritimati Atoll over time. This research sought to assess the influence of fishing pressure and environmental variables like oceanographic productivity on reef community structure. (More here.)
Effects of Artisanal Fisheries on Coral Reef Community Structure & Function
As a research technician at Stanford I assisted with research investigating: 1.) how the terrestrial and coral reef systems are linked to each other via nutrient and energy subsidies, 2.) which organisms play an important role shaping both ecosystems, and 3.) how humans change how coral reef food webs are structured.
Importance of Marine Nutrients in Tropical Island Terrestrial Communities
Starting as an undergraduate and then later as a research technician, I conducted research focusing on the effects of marine nutrient subsidies from seabirds on island ecosystems. Part of that work involved determining the role that coconut palm trees play in shaping terrestrial communities by reducing seabird densities. Seabirds tend to avoid nesting in the palms, so forests dominated by palms have reduced nutrient inputs from the seabirds' guano, leading to changes in forest biogeochemistry and the plant and animal communities living in those forests. (More here.)
© Amy A. Briggs, 2014