copyright brian silliman lab
Statement of research interests and objectives
The majority of my work has been with plant and animal communities on the temperate shorelines of the Western Atlantic, particularly those in salt marsh and rocky intertidal habitats. I am an experimental ecologist and employ manipulative field studies in coastline systems to examine and unravel how patterns in natural communities are generated and maintained. I incorporate population (density dependence), community (multi-trophic aspects of food webs), and ecosystem (biogeochemical cycles) level processes in my investigations and typically design experiments with specific conservation or management problems in mind. My primary research focuses on how consumers (top-down forces) and nutrients (bottom-up forces) interact to control structure and productivity of marine plant communities. This research is particularly applicable to marine conservation efforts because continued coastal development and increased demand for seafood have resulted in heavy nutrient loading and severely depleted fisheries in near-shore marine communities. My experimental studies provide predictions on how ecologically important shoreline habitats will respond to intense, human-induced perturbations and recommendations for conservation strategies needed to ameliorate their widespread impacts.