I study vegetation-climate interactions in the context of climate change. My research work includes spatial ecology, plant physiology, remote sensing, and climate change. Specifically, I am interested in the climatic controls on vegetation photosynthesis and related plant functioning, the feedbacks of vegetation to the climate, and the impact of climate change on vegetation phenology.
My major research interest has been the development of an individual-based theory of vegetaton dynamics. The focus of the research is to examine how basic physiological and morphological constraints operating at the level of the individual plant influence pattern and process at higher levels of organization (i.e., populations, communities and ecosystems). This interest has led me to pursue a variety of studies to address the mechanisms of plant pattern across a wide range of scales.
Areas of interest include the physiology and ecology of planktonic communities, including predator-prey relationships, trophic interactions at intermediate levels within the food chain, planktonic larval recruitment processes, and the dynamics of gelatinous macrozooplankton.
Recent activity has also focused on the oxygen/nutrient dynamics within Chesapeake Bay, nekton dynamics in tidal freshwater and barrier island environments, as well as innovative ways to transfer scientific information to policy and decision makers.
Herman H. (“Hank”) Shugart, Jr. is a systems ecologist whose primary research interests focus on the simulation modeling of forest ecosystems. He has developed and tested models of biogeochemical cycles, energy flow and secondary succession. In his most recent work, he uses computer models to simulate the growth, birth and death of each tree on small forest plots. The simulations describe changes in forest structure and composition over time, in response to both internal and external sources of perturbation.
My primary research area is plant-pollinator interactions, which I study through field, laboratory, and phylogenetic approaches. These include (i) studies of pollen chemistry to characterize the diversity of pollen nutrient rewards; (ii) phylogenetic analyses to associate shifts in pollen nutrient content with evolutionary shifts in pollination syndrome; (iii) observations of pollinator host choices to determine pollinator assessment of pollen nutrition, and (iv) studies of insect development and body size to assess the potential importance of variation in pollen nutrients.
My primary area of research is environmental fluid dynamics, with an emphasis on physical-biological interactions in coastal environments. Current research activities include the effects of flow and turbulence on nutrient exchange in coral reefs, sediment transport in estuaries, chemical dispersion in the coastal ocean, and wave dynamics. My research also investigates coastal resilience. I explore how ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrasses and oyster beds, both alter and respond to wave and storm impacts along coastlines.
I have research interests at a variety of scales, from microhabitat utilization of mice to biogeographic structures of entire island chains. Current research projects include: (1) the use of remotely sensed images and geographical information systems to produce chonosequences of insular vegetation, (2) testing of theories of socially induced dispersal, (3) biogeography of insular mammals, and (4) characteristics of image sources (satellites and aerial photographs) that affect perceptions of ecological landscapes.
I am an aquatic ecologist with broad interests in lake, river, and estuarine ecosystems. I currently have research projects focused on: 1) the detection of leading indicators of ecosystem regime shifts using whole-lake manipulations, 2) sources of organic matter for aquaculture in the Virginia Coastal Reserve, 3) the importance of terrestrial organic matter in supporting freshwater aquatic food webs, and 4) the long-term impacts of a zebra mussel invasion in a river ecosystem.
Active projects examine the microbial transformations of contaminants and trophic transfer of energy through microorganisms. A main line of inquiry deals with bacteria in the subsurfce (groundwater) environment. Current projects include field and laboratory investigations of hydrological factors controlling the transient removal of agricultural nitrate in sediments of low-relief coastal streams, and the role of autotrophic microbes in the dissolution of carbonates in submerged caves.
My research group focuses on the dynamics of ecosystem change in shallow coastal systems, and the roles of climate, nutrient over-enrichment and species invasions on driving these changes. Current projects include: 1) Blue carbon sequestration in seagrass ecosystems, 2) Seagrass restoration and return of ecosystem services, 3) salt marsh resilience to sea-level rise, 4) ecosystem regime shifts in coastal barrier systems, and 5) impacts of invasive macro algae (Gracilaria).