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Bradley Peterson

Associate Professor



- Dauphin Island Sea Lab / University of South Alabama

Research Topics:

Community ecology of seagrass dominated ecosystems

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  • Bio/Research


    My research is focused on understanding the role of organisms in changing nutrient availability within their communities and how these interactions might affect community development and stability. I use manipulative experiments in nearshore marine habitats to examine how “resource providers” affect other members of their communities. Most of my work is with plant-animal interactions within seagrass ecosystems along the eastern coast of the U.S. However, our lab is very diverse encompassing topics from climate change to ecosystem restoration. In practice, our lab examines a continuum of questions ranging from single species interactions to ecosystem function, giving us a unique perspective on each of these problems. In all of our research, we use quantitative and manipulative experiments to bridge the gap between theory and field systems. We accomplish this through the development of mathematical models that incorporate empirical data as well as designing experiments and analysis that rigorously test theory.

    Past projects have included looking at the role of sponges in Florida Bay to control phytoplankton blooms and increase light availability to the benthic plant community, the effect of marine protected areas on changing trophic transfer from nearby seagrass foraging grounds on both “no take” and unprotected reefs and how herbivorous fish create nutrient “hot spots” around patch reefs. Current projects in the lab focus on how different predators perceive the same level of habitat complexity, how ocean acidification is changing species interactions between seagrasses and the shellfish that recruit to them, how fish predator removal has impacted small crab shellfish foraging and the mutualism between sulfide oxidizing bivalves and seagrass.

  • Publications


    Young, C. S.,  B. J. Peterson, and C. J. Gobler.  2018.  The bloom-forming macroalge,  Ulva, outcompeters the seagrass,  Zostera marina under high CO conditions.  Estuaries and Coasts (

    Zarnock, C. B., T. J. Hoellein, B. T. Furman and  B. J. Peterson.  2017.  Eelgrass meadows (L.), facilitate the ecosystem service of nitrogen removal during simulated nutrient pulses in Shinnecock Bay, New York, USA. Marine Pollution Bulletin 124(1): 376-387

    McCoy, E., S. T. Borrett, M. K. LaPevre and  B. J. Peterson.  2017.  Estimating the impact of oyster restoration scenarios on transient fish production.   Restoration Ecology 25(5):798-809.

    Tinoco, A. I., B. T. Furman, K. M. Darnell and  B. J. Peterson.  2017. Submerged aquatic vegetation, topography and flow characteristics in the upper, tidal Hudson River: Progress toward a predictive habitat model.   Aquatic Botany 142: 53-60.

    Jackson, L. J., B. T. Furman and  B. J. Peterson.  2017.  Morphological response of  Zostera marina reproductive shoots to fertilized porewater.   Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 489:1-6.

    Furman, B. T., L. J. Jackson and  B. J. Peterson. 2017. Edaphic resource foraging by  Zostera marina (Linnaeus) patches.   Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 486:214-221.

    Kulp, R. and  B. J. Peterson.  2016.  Evaluating the impact of mesopredators on oyster restoration in the New York Metroplitan Region.   Journal of Shellfish Research 35(4): 801-807.

    Stubler, A. D., Jackson, L. J., Furman, B. T. and  B. J. Peterson.  2016.  Seed production patterns in  Zostera marina: Effects of patch size and landscape configuration.  Estuaries and Coasts 40 (2): 564-572.

    Stubler, A. D. and  B. J. Peterson.  2016.  Ocean acidification accelerates dissolution and bioerosion in a coral rubble community.  Coral Reefs 35(2): 795-803.

    Stubler, A. D., A. K. Stevens and  B. J. Peterson.  2016.  Using community-wide recruitment and succession patterns to assess sediment stress on Jamaican coral reefs.   Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology474: 29-38.

    Furman, B. T. and   B. J. Peterson.  2015.  Sexual Recruitment in   Zostera marina: Progress toward a Predictive Model.    PLoS ONE  10(9): e0138206.  

    Stubler, A. D., B. T. Furman and   B. J. Peterson.  2015.  Sponge erosion under acidification and warming scenarios: differential impacts on living and dead coral.    Global Change Biology  21(11): 4006-4020

    Tettelbach, S. T.,   B. J. Peterson, J. M. Carroll, B. T. Furman, S. W. T. Hughes, J. Havelin, J. R. Europe, D. M. Bonal, A. J. Weinstock and C. F. Smith.  2015.  Aspiring to an Alternative Stable State: Rebuilding of Bay Scallop Populations and Fisheries Following Intensive Restoration.    Marine Ecology Progress Series  529: 121-136.

    Stubler, A. D., A. R. Duckworth and   B. J. Peterson.  2015.  The effects of coastal development on sponge abundance, diversity and community composition on Jamaican coral reefs.    Marine Pollution   Bulletin  96: 261-270.

    Berry, D. L., J. A. Goleski, F. Koch, C. C. Wall,   B. J. Peterson, O. R. Anderson and C. J. Gobler.  2015.    Synechococcus  blooms in Florida Bay.    Molecular Ecology  70: 361-371.

    Furman, B. T., L. J. Jackson, E. Bricker and   B. J. Peterson.  2015. Sexual recruitment in   Zostera marina: a patch to landscape-scale investigation.    Limnology and Oceanography  60(2): 584-599.

    Carroll, J. M., L. L. Jackson and   B. J. Peterson.  2015.  The effect of increasing habitat complexity on bay scallop survival in the presence of different decapod crustacean predators.    Estuaries and Coasts  38: 1569-1579

    Peterson, B. J., A. M. Fournier, B. T. Furman and J. M. Carroll. 2014. Hemigrapsus sanguineus in Long Island salt marshes: experimental valuation of the interactions between an invasive crab and resident ecosystem engineers. PeerJ 2:e472

    Stubler, A. M., B. T. Furman and   B. J. Peterson. 2014. Effects of pCO2 on the interaction between an excavating sponge, Cliona varians, and a hermatypic coral, Porites furcata. Marine Biology 161: 1851-1859.

    Peterson, B. J., E. Bricker, S. J. Brisbin, B. T. Furman, A. D. Stubler, J. M. Carroll, D. L. Berry, C. J. Gobler, A. Calladine, M. Waycott. 2013. Genetic diversity and gene flow in Zostera marina populations surrounding Long Island, New York, USA: No evidence of inbreeding, genetic degradation or population isolation. Aquatic Botany 110: 61-66.

    Wall, C. C.,   B. J. Peterson, E. Ward and C. J. Gobler. 2013. Contrasting growth patterns of suspension-feeding molluscs (Mercenaria mercenaria, Crassostrea virginica, Argopecten irradians and Crepidula fornicata) across a eutrophication gradient in the Peconic Estuary, NY, USA. Estuaries and Coasts 36: 1274-1291.

    Carroll, J. M. and   B. J. Peterson. 2013. Ecological trade-offs in seascape ecology: bay scallop survival and growth across a seagrass landscape. Landscape Ecology 28: 1401-1413.

    Carroll, J. M. and   B. J. Peterson. 2013. Comparisons in demographic rates of bay scallops in eelgrass and the introduced alga, Codium fragile, in New York . Marine Biology 160: 1451-1463.

    Tettelbach, S. T.,   B. J. Peterson, J. M. Carroll, S. W.T. Hughes, D. Bonal, A. Weinstock, J. R. Europe, B. T. Furman, C. F. Smith. 2013. Priming the larval pump: Resergence of bay scallop recruitment after initiation of intensive restoration efforts. Marine Ecology Progress Series 478: 153-172.

    Peterson, B. J., K. L. Heck and J. V. Valentine. 2013. The snapper-grunt pump: habitat modification and facilitation of the associated benthic plant communities by reef resident fish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 441: 50-54.

    Duckworth, A. R. and   B. J. Peterson. 2013. Effects of seawater temperature and pH on the boring rates of the sponge   Cliona celata  in scallop shells.   Marine Biology  160: 27-35.

    Rountos, K. J.,   B. J. Peterson  and I. Karakassis. 2012. Indirect effects of fish cage aquaculture on shallow Posidonia oceanica seagrass patches in coastal Greek waters.   Aquaculture Environment Interactions  2: 105-115.

    Neckles, H., B. Kopp,   B. J. Peterson  and P. Pooler. 2012. Integrating scales of seagrass monitoring to meet conservation needs. Estuaries and Coasts  35: 23-46.

    Wall, C. C.,   B. J. Peterson  and C. J. Gobler. 2011. The growth of estuarine resources ( Zostera marina, Mercenaria mercenaria, Crassostrea virginica, Argopecten irradians, Cyprinodon variegates ) in response to nutrient loading and enhancement of suspension-feeding by adult shellfish.   Estuaries and Coasts  34: 1262-1277.

    Goleski, J. A., F. Koch, C. C. Wall, M. A. Marcoval-Pan, F. J. Jochem,   B. J. Peterson  and C. J. Gobler. 2010. The role of zooplankton grazing and nutrient loading in the occurrence of harmful cyanobacterial blooms in Florida Bay, FL, USA.   Estuaries and Coasts  33: 1202-1215.

    Carroll, J. M.,   B. J. Peterson, D. Bonal, A. Weinstock, C. F. Smith and S. T. Tettelbach. 2010. Comparative survival of bay scallops in eelgrass and the introduced alga,   Codium fragile, in a New York estuary.   Marine Biology  157:249-259.

    Carroll, J., C. J. Gobler and   B. J. Peterson. 2008. Resource- restricted growth of eelgrass in New York estuaries: light limitation, and alleviation of nutrient stress by hard clams.   Marine Ecology Progress Series  369:51-62.

    Valentine, J. F., K. L. Heck, Jr.,   B. J. Peterson, D. Blackmon, J. Christian, M. Goecker, R. M. Kroutil, M. Vanderklift and M. Beck. 2008. Exploited species impacts on trophic linkages along reef-seagrass interfaces in the Florida keys.   Ecological Applications  18: 1501-1515.

    Wall, C. C.,   B. J. Peterson, and C. J. Gobler. 2008. The facilitation of eelgrass ( Zostera marina) productivity by suspension feeding bivalves in an experimental setting.   Marine Ecology Progress Series  357: 165-174.

    Peterson, B. J., T. Frankovich and J. C. Zieman. 2007. Response of seagrass epiphyte loading to field manipulations of fertilization, gastropod grazing and leaf turnover rates.   Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology  349: 61-72.

    Weiss, M. B., P. B. Curran,   B. J. Peterson  and C. J. Gobler. 2007. The influence of water quality on hard clam ( Mercenaria mercenariaL.) populations across Long Island’s south shore lagoon estuaries.   Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology  345: 12-25.

    Valentine, J. F., K. L. Heck, Jr., D. Blackmon, M. E. Goecker, J. Christian, R. M. Kroutil, K. D. Kirsch,   B. J. Peterson, M. Beck and M. A. Vanderklift. 2007. Food web interactions along seagrass-coral reef boundaries: an experimental test of the impacts of piscivore reduction on cross-habitat energy exchange using the marine protected areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 333: 37-50.

    Warren, J. D. and   B. J. Peterson. 2007. Classification of estuarine bottom habitat and vegetation canopy height using backscatter intensity from an acoustic doppler current profiler. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 72: 53-62.

    Peterson, B. J., C. M. Chester and J. W. Fourqurean. 2006. The role of the sponge community in controlling phytoplankton blooms in Florida Bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 328: 93-103

    Gobler, C. J., Thibault, D.B., Davis, T.W., Curran, P.B.,   Peterson, B. J., Liddle, L.B. 2006. Algal assemblages associated with Stegastes sp. territories on Indo-Pacific coral reefs: Characterization of diversity and controls on growth. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 336: 135-145

    Fourqurean, J. W., J. N. Boyer, M. J. Durako, L. N. Hefty and   B. J. Peterson. 2003. Forecasting responses of seagrass distributions to changing water quality using monitoring data. Ecological Applications 13(2): 474-489

    Peterson, B. J., C. D. Rose, L. Rutten and J. W. Fourqurean. 2002. Disturbance and recovery following catastrophic grazing: studies of a successional chronosequence in a seagrass bed. Oikos 97: 361-370.

    Peterson, B. J., K. R. Thompson, K. L. Heck, Jr., and J. H. Cowan, Jr. 2001. Comparison of predation pressure in temperate and subtropical regions based on chronographic tethering. Marine Ecology Progress Series 224: 77-85.

    Peterson, B. J.  and K. L. Heck. 2001. An experimental test of the mechanism by which suspension feeding bivalves elevate seagrass productivity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 218: 115-125.

    Peterson, B. J.  and J.W. Fourqurean. 2001. Large-scale patterns in seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) demographics in south Florida. Limnology and Oceanography 46:1077-1090.

    Peterson, B. J.  and K. L. Heck. 2001. Interactions between suspension feeding bivalves and seagrass assemblages – a facultative mutualism. Marine Ecology Progress Series 213: 143-155.

    Peterson, B. J.  and K. L. Heck. 1999. The potential for suspension feeding bivalves to increase seagrass productivity. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 240:37-52.

    Peterson, B. J.  1998. Accelerated decomposition of Caulerpa paspaloides due to the grazing influence of Oxynoe azuropunctata. Gulf of Mexico Science 15(2):93-96.

    Peterson, B. J.  1998. Morphology and ultrastructure of the feeding apparatus of Sayella fusca (C. B. Adams, 1839). Journal of Molluscan Studies 64: 281-296.

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