Research Areas and Sub-Specialties
Benthic Community Dynamics
Benthic habitats include a diverse group of communities ranging from coral reef and oyster reef systems to salt marsh and sandflat areas. Coastal North Carolina offers a wide range of benthic habitats available for study, including salt marshes, oyster reefs, seagrass beds, offshore hardbottom reefs, and coastal and estuarine soft substrate (sandflats). The National Undersea Research Center facility in the Florida Keys also offers limited logistic support for research in Florida subtropical coral reef and bay environments. Current areas of research focus at UNCW include oyster reef biology and ecosystem function, tidal wetland ecology, dynamics of offshore and estuarine soft substrates, coral reef biology and ecosystem dynamics, as well as studies of the biology of target benthic species (e.g. sponges, corals, blue crabs, shrimp, oysters, polychaetes worms). Field research is facilitated by a mild year-round climate and an excellent research fleet including vessels from 16' to 70' which enable researchers to access major estuarine and coastal habitats. Seawater facilities and wet laboratories are located at the Center for Marine Science.
Faculty researching this area include: