My research is directed toward understanding the dynamics of populations and communities living in marine hard substrate habitats. Our lab is conducting research focused around three themes: 1) physical forcing of marine benthic ecosystems, 2) studies on the origin vs. the maintenance of pattern, and 3) marine biodiversity. How community structuring processes vary with scale is a consideration that pervades all aspects of our research.
Growing up near the broad horizon of the ocean undoubtedly influenced my interest in large-scale marine ecology. I was trained in marine benthic ecology as a high school student at Sandy Hook Marine Lab, NJ. Studying the impacts of sewage and dredge spoil dumping on offshore marine life impressed upon me the need to mitigate anthropogenic impacts on the ocean. As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to conduct a year long independent study of animal-sediment relations in a New Zealand estuary. This experience taught me how to do science and it helped develop my world view of ecology and sense of belonging to a global human community. I spent another year and a half in the South Pacific, working my way through the Fiji and New Hebrides Islands to see pristine coral reefs before they were altered by human disturbance. I began to learn the spectacularly diverse marine invertebrate fauna of the western Pacific during this time, which helped enormously when I began a global biodiversity study nearly two decades later. I re-entered the academic community at the University of New Hampshire. Excited about the opportunities in marine community ecology, I went straight through for a PhD with Larry Harris. A post-doc at Northeastern University's Marine Science Center with Ken Sebens led to my first faculty position. I helped develop the East West Marine Biology Program there and enjoyed teaching marine benthic ecology in Nahant and coral reef ecology in Jamaica. I am deeply committed to training the next generation of ecologists and to developing the best marine conservation science. I moved to Brown University in 1994. I have been fortunate to conduct research in six out of seven oceans of the world.
JON WITMAN, PHD
On The Web:
Large-Scale Forces Shape Local Ocean Life, Global Study Shows
"Dead zone" summer killed billions of ocean state mussels
Coreal reef resilence: better feeders survive bleaching.
Marine Macroecology book published:
Bottom-up effects of upwelling on food webs in the Galapagos Marine Reserve
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