Fall 2011 Information for students interested in Graduate work in the Menge and Lubchenco laboratory at OSU (see footnote for update on Jane Lubchenco, currently on leave from her position as Professor and co-advisor to students in the lab to serve as the administrator of NOAA).
LAB OVERVIEW: Bruce Menge is the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology at Oregon State University. He maintains a large and very active research group, including 5 to 7 graduate students. Previously most students admitted to our program were co-advised by Bruce and Jane Lubchenco; our colleague Sally Hacker is helping to fulfill some of Jane’s mentorship responsibilities until Jane returns to OSU. This webpage will serve to tell you something about our research programs and those of our students, the success our graduates have enjoyed, and the Department's admission policies and procedures.
RESEARCH: Bruce’s research activities are aimed at understanding community and ecosystem dynamics, using comparative-experimental approaches in testing models of community regulation with a major focus on the impacts of climate change. Our overarching theme is meta-ecosystem dynamics, defined as the study of sets of ecosystems connected by spatial flows of energy, materials and organisms across ecosystem boundaries in a changing world. A new and important focus is on the ecological impacts of ocean acidification, with three new grants supporting laboratory and field studies of OA impacts within the context of the PISCO consortium. Embedded within and extending beyond the focus on OA are ongoing interests in top-down bottom-up control of communities, linkages between adjacent ecosystems, food web dynamics, context-dependency of community and ecosystem dynamics, ecosystem based management, stability and resilience of ecosystems, supply-side ecology, ecological role of larval transport, and how these are influenced by climate change. Units of study range from the local, population and community scale, to the large, regional, interhemispheric to global scale. Our current research focuses mostly on the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, but with collaborators, we also do research in the Humboldt Current LME, the New Zealand Shelf LME, the Northeast US Continental Shelf LME (i.e., New England), and the Benguela Current LME. Our studies are strongly collaborative, with expertise in our larger group of interacting colleagues ranging from the molecular to ecosystem levels. We focus on basic research that produces understanding relevant to human issues.
COLLABORATIONS: Our research currently occurs in the context of three consortia, PISCO, ICORUMBA, and a new NSF-funded consortium studying ocean acidification along the US west coast (OMEGAS). PISCO is the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, a Large-Scale, Long-Term Ecological Consortium (see http://www.piscoweb.org), ICORUMBA is the International Consortium for Research in Marine Biogeographic Areas (see http://intertidalweb.org).
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION: OMEGAS (Ocean Margin Ecosystem Group for Acidification Studies) includes eight PISCO PIs (Menge, lead PI, Barth, McManus, Raimondi, Palumbi, Hofmann, Washburn), two PISCO coPIs (Chan and Blanchette), plus colleagues from MBARI (Francisco Chavez) and Bodega Marine Lab (Eric Sanford, Brian Gaylord, Tessa Hill, and Ann Russell). Richard Feely from NOAA, an expert in ocean chemistry, is also part of this collaborative project. Our goal is to investigate acclimation and adaptation of sea urchins and mussels to a mosaic of ocean acidification along the CCLME. OMEGAS establishes the first large-scale network of sensors to document patterns of OA in the inner shelf region of the California Current upwelling ecosystem.
PISCO is focused on the dynamics of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, specifically in the area from the intertidal to 10-20 km offshore, an area oceanographers term the inner and middle shelves. Research involves studies in rocky intertidal and the adjacent pelagic environment from the surf zone to a depth of approximately 30 to 50 m, with the goal of understanding benthic-pelagic coupling in, and connectedness among rocky intertidal (and in California, subtidal) communities. PISCO is co-funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation supplemented by grants from other foundations, NSF, NOAA and Sea Grant. The consortium is led by thirteen scientists, four at OSU (Bruce, Jane, Francis Chan, and Jack Barth of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences), two at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, five at the University of California at Santa Barbara, two at the University of California at Santa Cruz, one at the University of Hawaii, and one at the University of Miami. Some specific components of the projects are listed below. PISCO offers opportunities for graduate students and postdocs to carry out research that extends beyond the geographic and disciplinary constraints that often limit such research to more local scales and to more disciplinary approaches.
ICORUMBA is a consortium that is integrally linked to PISCO. ICORUMBA involves some of the same scientists and has a similar conceptual focus as PISCO, but entails an inter-hemispheric to global comparison of similar ecosystems. Members include OSU (Jane and Bruce), UCSB, the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile, the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa and Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. ICORUMBA was established with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; funding from the AWMF has lapsed and new funding is being sought. ICORUMBA offers opportunities for graduate student and postdoctoral interchange among the different members of the consortium.
SPECIFIC RESEARCH PROJECTS:
1. Meta-ecosystem Dynamics in Nearshore Ecosystems - What are the relative impacts of local-scale, meso-scale and larger-scale processes in structuring the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem? We study the influence of upwelling, phytoplankton productivity, particulates and organic matter, recruitment, larval abundance, biotic interactions, shore topography and environmental stress on rocky intertidal and subtidal community structure and organization. Besides Bruce, Jane, and Jack, PISCO PIs include Francis Chan (OSU), Mark Carr, and Pete Raimondi (UCSC), Margaret McManus (Univ. of Hawaii); Mark Denny and Steve Palumbi (Hopkins); Steve Gaines, Bob Warner, Libe Washburn, Carol Blanchette, and Jenn Caselle (UCSB); and Bob Cowen (University of Miami, FL). Collaborators include ecologists (Sally Hacker, and Sarah Dudas, University of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, BC; Gil Rilov, Israel Institute of Limnology and Oceanography, Haifa, Israel; Karina Nielsen, Sonoma State University; Eric Sanford, UC Davis; Matt Bracken, Northeastern University), oceanographers (Mike Kosro, Tim Cowles, Murray Levine, Ricardo Letelier, Kipp Shearman, Tuba Ozkhan-Haller, and Jonathan Nash, COAS OSU; Bill Peterson, NOAA; Allen Milligan, Botany and Plant Pathology OSU), physical biologists (Brian Helmuth, University of South Carolina), and molecular eco-physiologists (Sean Place, University of South Carolina, Gretchen Hofmann, UCSB).
2. Marine Community Biodiversity - What shapes the patterns of rocky intertidal biodiversity? We study patterns of distribution, abundance and diversity in rocky intertidal communities across several spatial scales, ranging from the traditional scales of m2 to much larger than traditional scales ranging to 1000’s of km. Studies involve mapping, monitoring, remote sensing, field experimentation, and modelling. Collaborators include Gil Rilov (Israel Institute of Limnology and Oceanography), David Schiel (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Carol Blanchette (UCSB), Sergio Navarrete and Evie Wieters (Univ. Catolica, Santiago, Chile), and Frederic Guichard (McGill University).
3. Stability and Resilience of Coastal Ecosystems. How will coastal ecosystems be changed as the climate gradually warms? This focus has three components and overlaps in concept and research activity with projects 1 and 2 above. Two projects focus on impacts of Ocean Acidification. The first is the OMEGAS project mentioned above, which is a large collaborative project that spans the CCLME and involves investigation of ecological, oceanographic, physiological, and evolutionary impacts on two key ecosystem components, sea urchins and mussels. The second project examines the impact of OA and other environmental stressors on coralline algae, a key facilitator of kelp recruitment, across the Oregon and northern California coasts. The third project builds on long-term PISCO datasets on recruitment, phytoplankton, species interactions, and community structure, to examine how climate-related change is altering rocky intertidal communities along the Oregon coast. All these projects are NSF funded.
4. Suborganismal Mechanisms - How important are sublethal effects of environmental stress and subtle effects of varying food availability on growth, survival and abundance of marine intertidal organisms? In particular, what are the impacts of hypoxia and ocean acidification on marine benthic populations and their larvae? These studies are aimed at understanding the molecular, biochemical and physiological mechanisms that underlie the responses of marine organisms to climate change. We collaborate with Drs. Gretchen Hofmann, Sean Place, and George Somero (Hopkins Marine Station) on this work.
5. Marine Conservation Ecology – What goods and services are provided by coastal marine ecosystems? How are these systems changing? What is the anthropogenic impact on these ecosystems? What would ecosystem-based management look like for coastal marine ecosystems? How can one manage for resilience in coupled human-natural systems? What is the role of networks of marine reserves and how should they be designed? These are some of the conservation-related questions being addressed within our group. In addition to many of the above colleagues, other collaborators on these topics include Karen McLeod of OSU COMPASS. Many of these activities offer students possible ways to learn about and participate in ways of connecting scientific understanding to the larger public and policy worlds.
LAB DETAILS: As of fall term 2011, Bruce advises or co-advises 8 graduate students (sole advisor for five, and co-advisor of one with David Schiel, two with Sally Hacker). We encourage independence in our students, including the design and execution of their own research projects. We do not assign research topics. Our students have worked on a wide variety of subjects and have had impressive success on the job market. Besides those listed below, recent graduates have secured positions at UC Davis (Eric Sanford), Brown University (Heather Leslie), Northeastern University (Matt Bracken), Cal State at Long Beach (Jennifer Burnaford), Cal State at Sonoma (Karina Nielsen), Portland State University (Elise Granek), University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador (Luis Vinueza), OCEANA, an NGO focused on Marine Conservation (Chris Krenz), the Natural Capital Project (Anne Guerry), and NOAA (Laura Petes).Recently completed theses by our graduate students include: Luis Vinueza’s (University of San Francisco, Quito) study of the influence of species interactions and upwelling on recruitment and dynamics of rocky intertidal communities in the Galapagos Islands; Joe Tyburczy’s study of the mechanisms of larval transport in barnacle and mussel populations on rocky shores; Dafne Eerkes-Medrano’s study of the impacts of hypoxia on barnacle and mussel larvae; and Margot Hessing-Lewis’ (Sally Hacker and Bruce) study of the factors causing variation in eelgrass abundance among Pacific Northwest estuaries. A thesis project nearing completion is Davon Callander’s (David Schiel and Bruce) study of genomic responses to climate change and environmental stress in mussels. Thesis projects in full swing include Alison Iles’ study of interaction strength in intertidal food webs; Jeremy Rose’s study of the impact of ocean acidification in key intertidal invertebrates; Sarah Close’s study of nutrient dynamics and algal productivity. Second-year students Liz Cerny-Chipman, Chenchen Shen, and Allison Barner (the latter co-advised with Sally) are currently evaluating preliminary research results as they work out their thesis topics. The new student entering the lab, Jessica Reimer, will be co-advised by Bruce and Sally. I typically admit one or two students to our group each academic year.
Our group also includes several other scientists, including an assistant professor/senior research faculty (Francis Chan), and four postdoctoral fellows (Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, Tarik Gouhier, Phillip Fenberg, and Leigh Tait). These individuals are involved in a variety of projects, including the science of marine reserves, ecosystem-based management, the theory of marine meta-ecosystems and meta-communities, biogeography of US west coast rocky intertidal communities, and ocean acidification effects on macrophytes. The group is rounded out by a laboratory manager (Jerod Sapp), the PISCO Associate Executive Director (Kristen Milligan), COMPASS staff (Karen McLeod and Heather Reiff), program staff (Cindy Kent, Kathleen Norris), research technicians (Kim Page-Albins, Lindsay Hunter, Megan Poole, Jonathan Robinson, Becky Focht, and Shawn Gerrity), a computer/data specialist (Michael Frenock), and varying numbers of undergraduate honors college students and research interns.
For labs with running seawater, most of our students use OSU's marine lab, the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Newport, OR, about one hour from Corvallis, and occasionally the University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, Oregon. We have access to laboratory space at HMSC when needed, and easy access to the diverse and largely unspoiled rocky shores of the stunning Oregon coast. The recent designation of the first two marine reserves along the Oregon coast should open the way to more research focused on the design and effectiveness of marine reserves.
ZOOLOGY DEPARTMENT: The Zoology Department restricts its graduate student body to the number that can be supported on Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and Graduate Fellowships. Zoology presently has about 50 students whose interests range from molecular genetics to cell and developmental biology to physiology to behavioral, population and community ecology. OSU Zoology is particularly strong in ecology, conservation biology, behavior, evolutionary biology, and marine biology, with about 2/3 of a total of 20 full-time faculty having affinities in these areas (see http://ecology.science.oregonstate.edu). Major organismal strengths include a large herpetology group (including Steve Arnold, Andrew Blaustein, Lynne Houck, and Bob Mason), insect evolutionary biology (David Maddison, Dave Lytle, Chris Marshall) and marine biology (besides Bruce and Jane, Sally Hacker, Mark Hixon, Virginia Weis, Sarah Henkel, Mark Novak [beginning in fall 2012], and Eli Meyer [beginning in spring 2012]). Ecology and conservation biology are represented by Blaustein, Hixon, Menge, Sally Hacker, Mark Novak, Sarah Henkel [salt marsh, sand dune and rocky intertidal community ecology, conservation ecology], David Lytle [stream ecology, evolutionary biology], and starting in fall 2012, Rebecca Terry-Novak [paleo-ecology, ecology of mammals]. These individuals give us expertise in a wide range of levels of organization (behavior to ecosystems), habitats (aquatic, marine, terrestrial), and approach (field, lab, empirical, modeling, experimental). In addition to the members of the Zoology Department, numerous faculty in other departments and colleges (including Oceanography, Statistics, Fisheries and Wildlife, Forestry, and Microbiology) are ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and environmental scientists and provide valuable resources and stimulation for Zoology graduate students in ecology.GRADUATE STUDENTS: Our graduate students have traditionally been a close-knit group with whom we interact regularly both professionally and socially. Students have found the facilities and intellectual climate of Oregon State University, the Zoology Department, Hatfield Marine Science Center on the Oregon coast, the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, and our laboratory to be exceptionally favorable to the growth and development of their expertise as scientists. We, in turn, consider the graduate program to be an integral and necessary part of our continued professional and personal growth. We expect and encourage considerable independence in each individual's research activities. Our students are supported during their graduate careers by a combination of TA's, RA's and Fellowships including summer term. Of our present group of students, many have (or have had) NSF, NSERC, EPA, or NERR Predoctoral Fellowships. Additional support comes from RAships on grants and TAships. We have awarded 32 Ph.D.'s and 9 M.S. degrees while at OSU. Many of these have obtained positions and/or postdocs at research universities, including Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Columbia, UC Davis, Syracuse, Auckland (New Zealand), UC at Santa Barbara, Catolica Universidad de Chile, Arizona State, Ohio State, Portland State, Florida State, Northeastern and San Francisco in Quito. Others have obtained positions at four-year undergraduate colleges, including Stetson College, Cal State at Sonoma, and Cal State at Long Beach. Yet others are in the private sector (e.g., one has created and is President of an environmental consulting company, Sustainable Ecosystems Institute, another is with OCEANA, a third is with the Natural Capital Project)and one is with a federal agency (NOAA).
If you think you would be a strong applicant, I encourage you to apply. You should be aware that our graduate program is highly rated and very competitive. Preference is given to individuals who apply to our Ph.D. program and to students who have substantial research experience. By policy, I admit students only after we have met them, so if you rank high on the list of applicants (as determined by the Zoology Graduate Admissions Committee in January/February) I will encourage a visit sometime in winter term. I also urge you to investigate and apply for such scholarships and fellowships as may be available, such as NSF, EPA STAR, NSERC or Fulbright Pre-doctoral Fellowships. Please write to me if you have additional questions.
Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and OSU Distinguished Professor of Zoology