Jessica Lueders-Dumont

MarineGEO and STRI Postdoctoral Fellow

jess and otolithsMy research question as a Smithsonian MarineGEO fellow at STRI is, What did the coastal marine food webs of Caribbean Panama, Chesapeake Bay, and the rocky shorelines of British Columbia “look like” in the past? My approach is to ask the fish, through measuring the chemical fingerprints within historical, sub fossil, and fossil otoliths (fish ear stones) from sediments and archives. Using otoliths as time capsules of oceans past, this research will reveal new insights on pre disturbance ecological baseline across diverse systems, prior to fishing, land use changes, and rapid climate change.

I am particularly interested in the relationship between food web structure, apex predator trophic level, and nutrient regimes on long time scales. I use nitrogen isotopes, usually in the carbonate-bound organic matrix of fish otoliths (ear stones), to track biogeochemical and food web processes.

In addition to the O’Dea Lab at STRI, I am working in collaboration with the Rick Lab at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the Hessing-Lewis Lab and McKechnie Lab at the Hakai Institute, and the Sigman Lab at Princeton University.

Rick Lab at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the Hessing-Lewis Lab and McKechnie Lab at the Hakai Institute, and the Sigman Lab at Princeton University.


Jorge Salgado

Post-doc (Now Assistant Professor at Universidad de Los Andes)


My research focuses in the understanding of multiple factors influencing freshwater biodiversity over time. I am interesting in the synergies between the introduction of exotic species, water pollution, hydrological alterations and climate change affecting lake assemblages in the Anthropocene. My work integrates paleolimnological techniques, historical data and contemporary monitoring data in human-impacted tropical lakes to:

  1. Assess how tropical lake communities respond over time (decadal to centennial) to environmental change (e.g. eutrophication, climate change and lake water level alterations).
  2. Determine if dominance of exotic aquatic plants and fish are a direct consequence of competitive exclusion with native species; or whether dominance is an indirect cause from direct negative effects of habitat disturbances on native communities.
  3. Explore if there have been positive impacts from the introduction of exotic species (e.g. carbon sequestration.

Mauro Lepore

Quantifying Ecological Changes in Reef-Building Corals over Historical Timescales

Coral reefs are declining worldwide but we do not know what a natural reef should look like because their degradation appears to have begun long beforeLeporeML_portrait_2 scientists began to survey reefs. Focusing on Bocas del Toro, Panama, this project aims to quantify the differences in the ecological structure of reef-building corals from a 7000 year old fossil reef versus a modern reefs. The fossil reef and modern reefs respectively developed before and during the period when human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Understanding how reef-building corals have changed over historical timescales can help marine managers to assess the decline of Caribbean reefs relative to their condition before the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.