MarineGEO and STRI Postdoctoral Fellow
My 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.
I am a micropaleontologist with a specialty in marine ostracods. I did my PhD in the University of Hong Kong. I love being on a research vessel, searching for answers in the vast ocean, and working with many scientists from diverse backgrounds. I am broadly interested in how species originated, distributed or went extinct in response to paleoenvironmental changes. Ostracods is a large class of bivalved crustaceans with a wide variety of ecological preferences, and is useful in paleoecological studies. In the STRI, I will be reconstructing the ostracod faunal changes during the emergence of the Panama Isthmus to shed light on the vulnerability of benthic meiofauna to environmental shifts.
Note: May will soon defend her Phd in the lab of Moriaki Yasuhara
Smithsonian Research Fellow
My research integrates behavioural ecology, sensory physiology, evolutionary ecology and genomics to examine the role of environmental change in shaping communication systems and ultimately the evolutionary trajectory of populations. I am fascinated by rapid ecological adaptation and its genetic and epigenetic underpinnings, particularly in aquatic environments. If there is water, and there are animals, I am interested!
My work at STRI focuses on divergence in ecological traits between sister species of coral reef fishes separated by the rise of the Isthmus of Panama. At the moment, I am examining how the visual system of sister fish species differentially adapted to the drastically different underwater light conditions between the two coasts (Pacific and Caribbean) of Panama.
Suzette works on plants but is otherwise quite a nice person. She can teach you things you never knew were possible with GIS. Watch out for her wicked tea making abilities handed down over generations
SENACYT & STRI Post-doctoral Fellow
My research sits between the established disciplines of biodiversity, ecology, chemical ecology and mineralogy in the context of the global change using bryozoans as model organisms.
My current research aims are (a) to present new data on bryozoan species richness and the spatial patterns from poorly known regions, (b) to evaluate the ecological and applied effects of their natural compounds and (c) to deepen current understanding of skeletal geochemistry so that we can assess better how they will respond to global change.
Why study bryozoans?
Bryozoans are ubiquitous and important members of many benthic communities with high productivity, biodiversity and many ecosystem services and their global species richness is still largely underestimated. Biodiversity and biogeographical baseline studies are starting points for monitoring and rapidly assessing changes associated with threats such as climate change and the establishment of invasive marine species.
They inhabit depths between the intertidal to abyssal plains, and at all latitudes in the oceans. The broad bathymetrical and geographic ranges of some species make them useful organisms for evaluating depth and/or geographical-related changes.
They are known to produce natural products (NPs), such as alkaloids and terpenoids, although research in NPs and their role in an ecological context have focused mostly on other phyla.
They are often dominant skeletal-carbonate producers in temperate and polar waters that secrete skeletal calcite containing significant amounts of Mg-calcite. Their skeletons are more soluble than skeletons with low Mg content, and consequently, more susceptible to ocean acidification, as the solubility of calcite increases with its Mg-calcite content.
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 before 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.