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Research in the McCoy Lab discovers mechanisms that retain the function and resilience of ecosystems.  We focus on links between physiological responses, biogeochemistry, and the dynamics of population and communities. 

 

 

Productivity and trophic dynamics in a changing world

 

Algal communities are excellent model systems to study effects of environmental change on productivity and trophic dynamics, due to their fast responses to physicochemical conditions.  Many stressors co-occur in coastal communities, which play important roles in the function of our oceans.  Macrophytes are extremely important components of coastal ecosystems, creating foundational habitat and generating primary production. Seaweeds also play a major role in coastal carbon cycling, both at temperate latitudes where there exists a wealth of algal biodiversity and biomass, and in the tropics where coralline algae are important to coral reef carbon dynamics.  In many ways, the fates of coastal marine communities (and the oceans) are tied to the responses of seaweeds to environmental change.  Trophic dynamics between seaweeds and grazers control community dynamics and composition in many nearshore communities.  I am interested in differential effects of changing environmental conditions on interacting individuals and species, and thus on community function. 

Read more about the Response of Ecosystem Assembly and Function to Climate Change project, funded by FP7 Marie Curie.

 

Carbon use and sequestration

 

Carbon sequestration by marine sediments, or 'blue carbon,' is related to productivity, transport, and burial of primary producers in coastal regions.  Our recent work has shown that marine macroalgae contribute significantly to offshore carbon sources and burial, despite growing primarily in intertidal and shallow subtidal zones.  Current research in the lab explores pathways of carbon uptake and utilization by macroalgae and seagrasses and effects of microenvironment on productivity.  

Aquaculture feedbacks to coastal environments

 

Aquaculture is expanding rapidly to meet demands for global food security. In Florida, demand for clam and oyster aquaculture lease sites has arisen quickly over the past decade.  Yet, the effects of aquaculture equipment and biomass on coastal environments and biodiversity are still poorly understood.  Wild oysters have declined to near extirpation in the Florida Gulf of Mexico.  Together with others at FSU's Coastal and Marine Lab, I am now partnering with oyster farmers in the Gulf of Mexico to better understand long-term environmental dynamics affecting regional oyster harvest and to quantify changes in sediment chemistry and fauna connected to the presence of aquaculture.

 

EDU-STEM - Equity and Diversity in Undergraduate STEM

 

I am a part of the EDU-STEM (Equity and Diversity in Undergraduate STEM) Research Collaborative Network, supported by NSF and led by Sehoya Cotner (University of Minnesota).  This research aims to reveal regional differences, if they exist, in the cultural climate for women and minorities in STEM disciplines, develop a community of faculty who can serve as leaders in inclusive teaching and assessment, and increase the number of faculty in the US that are familiar with barriers to inclusion in STEM, and can apply evidence-based techniques for countering these known barriers.  This project is just starting, please stay tuned for updates!  We are currently recruiting new institutional partners. 

Check out our new program website to learn more and join the mailing list.