The role of species interactions in ecosystem stability

How do species interactions and abiotic factors influence ecosystems? 

I'm interested in how different species interactions (at both the macro- and micro- level) can confer ecosystem resilience to multiple stressors. For my master's thesis I looked at how algae, mechanical wounding, and a symbiotic crab species interact to affect disease occurrence in branching corals, which I hope to expand on this year.


How replaceable are species and their interactions with other organisms?

My research seeks to understand what drives biodiversity across coastal ecosystems and the importance of diversity for ecological communities under a changing climate. I'm interested in ecological redundancy and what species loss means for ecosystem function. On coral reefs I'm interested in how consumer identity influences diet and organisms' roles in maintaining foundation species.

Coastal restoration

Can sound be used to measure oyster reef biodiversity and is it a feasible method for restoration monitoring?

During my master's I led an interdisciplinary Bass Connections project exploring how sound and remote sensing can be used to measure biodiversity on oyster reefs along the coast of North Carolina. We used a mixture of hydrophones, Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures, DNA metabarcoding, and drones to survey reefs to see whether we can derive useful metrics for biodiversity that can be used in coastal wetland restoration.

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Can species interactions be leveraged to improve restoration?

Positive species interactions (i.e. those interactions where at least one species benefits and no species are harmed) are common in stressful environments, such as restored coastal ecosystems. Using a mixture of literature reviews and field experimentation I'm investigating how positive interactions can be integrated into salt marsh, mangrove, oyster, and coral restoration designs to reduce restoration cost and increase restoration effectiveness.

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Email: jrenzi(at)