Impacts of Species Interactions

Our work in local coastal systems focuses on how species interactions interact with abiotic factors to shape community diversity and ecosystem functioning. Beginning with a focus on non-consumptive effects, the lab's interest has grown to consider how predators, prey, competitors, and mutualists all interact (sometimes!).

Fear effects

The ability of predators to regulate community structure has long been recognized by ecologists, but traditional views of predation have focused on the consumptive effects of predators (how much they eat) on a single prey. Recently, however, ecologists have increasingly recognized that the mere presence of predators can have vast impacts on a system. We have demonstrated these effects may have been overlooked even in well-studied systems and may be a major pathway by which keystone predators influence communities. These non-consumptive interactions may also be impacted by environmental variation such as habitat complexity and temperature. Our work in marine systems focuses on integrating these fear effects into the larger context of community ecology and management, including recent work considering how predators impact biogeochemical cycles.

Related Articles (* indicate undergraduate author)

Gosnell, J.S., Spurgin, K.*, and Levine, E. Caged oysters still get scared: Predator presence and number influence growth in oysters, but only at very close ranges. 2017. Marine Ecology Progress Series 568: 111–122.

Levine, E., Gosnell, J. S., and Goetz, E. Natural cultch type influences habitat preference and predation, but not survival, in reef-associated species. 2017. Restoration Ecology 25: 101-111.

Needles, L. A., Gosnell, J. S., Waltz, T. W., Wendt, D. E., and Gaines, S. D. Trophic cascades in an invaded ecosystem: Native keystone predators facilitate a dominant invader in an estuarine community. 2015. Oikos 124: 1282–1292.

Fakhoury, W.A.*, and Gosnell, J.S. Limits to local adaptation? Some impacts of temperature on Nucella emarginata differ among populations, while others do not. 2014. Marine Biology: 161:1943-1948.

Gosnell, J.S., DiPrima, J.B., and Gaines, S.D. 2012. Habitat complexity impacts persistence and species interactions in an intertidal whelk. Marine Biology 159:2867-2874.

Gosnell, J.S., and Gaines, S.D. 2012. Keystone intimidators in the intertidal: non-consumptive effects of a keystone sea star regulate feeding and growth in whelks. Marine Ecology Progress Series 450:107-114.

Gosnell, J.S. Non-consumptive effects of a keystone intertidal predator and community consequences. 2010 Graduate Student Symposium, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, UCSB.


New work in the lab is focusing on how mutualisms in salt marshes impact marsh restoration practices and change across nutrient gradients.