My primary objective is to understand the function of the benthic community at various spatial scales with the goal of understanding and modeling the benthic community processes at the ecosystem level. Specifically, my goals are to (1) explore ecological and physical processes that are affected by the benthic community and that effect benthic community composition and function; (2) look at these processes at a variety of time scales (days to seasons and inter-annual time scales) so that hydrologic, climate, and exotic species effects on benthic communities and their ecosystems can be understood; (3) develop habitat and energetics models of dominant members of the benthic community that can be dynamically linked to models of hydrodynamics, phytoplankton production, and contaminant accumulation at the local and watershed spatial scale; and (4) understand and develop indices and models to describe how and when a benthic community disrupts an ecosystem (e.g. over-grazes the primary producers) and how and when a benthic community contributes to the stability of an ecosystem. All of these goals require that we understand the benthic community response to natural disturbances separate from, and in conjunction with anthropogenic disturbances such as chemical pollutants, physical alteration of water ways, restoration of habitat, and the introduction of exotic species.
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