Understanding the relationships between individual organisms and their environment is a fundamental goal in ecology, which is all the more pertinent due to the unprecedented environmental changes underway.

 

Research in the Kroeker Lab addresses the drivers of change in marine communities. Our research program is advanced by two complementary approaches. First, we combine field experiments with laboratory manipulations to understand the underpinnings of community and ecosystem dynamics. Second, we use meta-analysis and modeling to synthesize empirical results and advance broad theoretical frameworks for predicting the emergent effects of environmental change. We use a variety of systems to answer our questions, from seagrass ecosystems and rocky intertidal communities to rocky reefs surrounding volcanic carbon dioxide vents and kelp forests. Click here for descriptions of current projects in our lab.

Research themes

Carbon dioxide vents provide insight into how ocean life may change in the future.

Carbon dioxide vents provide insight into how ocean life may change in the future.

Ocean Acidification

We are interested in improving our understanding of the emergent effects of ocean acidification. In particular, we study the range of variability in species’ responses and what factors determine whether a species is sensitive or resilient. Furthermore, we study how species interactions can mediate these individual effects to influence communities and ecosystems. We use meta-analysis and observational studies across natural gradients of seawater pH, including shallow volcanic water CO2 vents and the coastal upwelling mosaic along the California Current System, to address how species responses to ocean acidification scale-up to affect community structure and ecosystem function.

Multiple Stressors

Most ecosystems are subjected to numerous stresses, including climate change, pollution, introductions of invasive species, and exploitation. The vast majority of research has examined the impacts of each of these stressors in isolation, but it is very likely that interactions between multiple stressors will determine the state of ecosystems in the future. Developing a framework for understanding and predicting how these effects will combine is critical to effectively adapting and responding to the rapidly changing environment and is a central theme in our research.

Science for Solutions

We also study the feedbacks between humans and the environment, especially regarding ways in which healthy ecosystems can benefit human well being and human activities can promote healthy ecosystems. Research in the Kroeker Lab is therefore strengthened by interdisciplinary collaborations with other scientists, stakeholders, practitioners and managers, as well as engagement with policy makers. We endeavor to do science that can inform sustainable solutions to some of our most pressing environmental problems.