Max Castorani

Max C.N. Castorani

Associate Professor

I am a marine ecologist with primary interests in population and community ecology. Although projects in our research group are diverse, we are collectively interested in understanding patterns of biodiversity in coastal marine ecosystems such as kelp forests, seagrass meadows, and oyster reefs. Our studies combine long-term observations, experiments, and models to explain the abundance and distribution of species across a broad range of spatial scales. These efforts aim to advance fundamental knowledge in ecology and inform the conservation and management of coastal habitats and their associated wildlife.


Castorani Google Scholar Link

Selected Publications

  • Hardison, S.B., K.J. McGlathery, and M.C.N. Castorani. In press. Effects of seagrass restoration on coastal fish abundance and diversity. Conservation Biology.
  • Smith, R.S., and M.C.N. Castorani. 2023. Meta-analysis reveals drivers of restoration success for oysters and reef community. Ecological Applications 33(5):e2865.
  • Smith, R.S., S.L. Cheng, and M.C.N. Castorani. 2023. Meta-analysis of ecosystem services associated with oyster restoration. Conservation Biology 37(1):e13966
  • Smith, R.S., B. Lusk, and M.C.N. Castorani. 2022. Restored oyster reefs match multiple functions of natural reefs within a decade. Conservation Letters 15(4):e12883
  • Castorani, M.C.N., T.W. Bell, J.A. Walter, D.C. Reuman, K.C. Cavanaugh, and L.W. Sheppard. 2022. Disturbance and nutrients synchronise kelp forests across scales through interacting Moran effects. Ecology Letters 25(8):1854–1868.
  • Walter, J.A., M.C.N. Castorani, T.W. Bell, L.W. Sheppard, K.C. Cavanaugh, and D.C. Reuman. 2022. Tail-dependent spatial synchrony arises from nonlinear driver-response relationships. Ecology Letters 25(5):1189–1201.
  • Walter, J.A., L.G. Shoemaker, N.K. Lany, M.C.N. Castorani, S.B. Fey, J.C. Dudney, L.A. Gherardi, C. Portales-Reyes, A.L. Rypel, K.L. Cottingham, K.N. Suding, D.C. Reuman, and L.M. Hallett. 2021. The spatial synchrony of species richness and its implications for ecosystem stability. Ecology 102(11):e03486.
  • Castorani, M.C.N., S.L. Harrer, R.J. Miller, and D.C. Reed. 2021. Disturbance structures canopy and understory productivity along an environmental gradient. Ecology Letters 24(10):2192–2206.
  • Gaiser, E.E., D.M. Bell, M.C.N. Castorani, D.L. Childers, P.M. Groffman, C.R. Jackson, J.S. Kominoski, D.P.C. Peters, S.T.A. Pickett, J. Ripplinger, and J.C. Zinnert. 2020. Long term ecological research and evolving frameworks of disturbance ecology. BioScience 70(2):141–156.
  • Castorani, M.C.N. and M.L. Baskett. 2020. Disturbance size and frequency mediate the coexistence of benthic spatial competitors. Ecology 101(1):e02904.
  • Cavanaugh, K.C., D.C. Reed, T.W. Bell, M.C.N. Castorani, and R. Beas-Luna. 2019. Spatial variability in the resistance and resilience of giant kelp in southern and Baja California to a multiyear heatwave. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:413.
  • Castorani, M.C.N., D.C. Reed, and R.J. Miller. 2018. Loss of foundation species: disturbance frequency outweighs severity in structuring kelp forest communities. Ecology 99(11):2442–2454.
  • Castorani, M.C.N., D.C. Reed, P.T. Raimondi, F. Alberto, T.W. Bell, K.C. Cavanaugh, D.A. Siegel, and R.D. Simons. 2017. Fluctuations in population fecundity drive variation in demographic connectivity and metapopulation dynamics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284(1847):20162086
  • Castorani, M.C.N., D.C. Reed, F. Alberto, T.W. Bell, R.D. Simons, K.C. Cavanaugh, D.A. Siegel, and P.T. Raimondi. 2015. Connectivity structures local populations dynamics: a long-term empirical test in a large metapopulation system. Ecology 96(12):3141–3152.
  • Castorani, M.C.N., and K.A. Hovel. 2015. Invasive prey indirectly increase predation on their native competitors. Ecology 96(7):1911–1922.
  • Castorani, M.C.N., K.A. Hovel, S.L. Williams, and M.L. Baskett. 2014. Disturbance facilitates the coexistence of antagonistic ecosystem engineers in California estuaries. Ecology 95(8):2277–2288.


Fundamentals of Ecology (EVSC 3200)
Studies energy flow, nutrient cycling and allocation in natural ecosystems, organization of species at the population and community levels, and interaction between people and the biosphere.
Coastal and Estuarine Ecology (EVSC 4110 / EVEC 7110)
An interdisciplinary course covering the physical, biogeochemical and ecological aspects of coastal estuaries.
Spatial Ecology (EVSC 4170 / EVEC 7170)
Examines how spatial patterns and processes influence ecological systems across a broad range of biological organization, including genes, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Investigates the central role of humans in altering spatial ecological processes and the consequences for human wellbeing.
Messy Data: Statistical Methods in Ecology and Environmental Sciences (EVSC 5040)
Explores the many types of complex data structures that are common in observational and experimental ecology, such as non-linear effects, heterogeneity of variance, nested data, non-independence. Using the R programming language, students will be provided with an introduction to implementing several types of advanced statistical models.