Research

Research Positions and Education

Postdoctoral Fellow, (2015–present) Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Temple University
Research: Effects of predation and competition on community assembly and patterns of invasion in Pacific estuaries across latitudinal gradient (Alaska to Panama); Influence of predator loss on community resistance to storm driven low-salinity events

PhD, Ecology, (2009–2015) University of California Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory
Dissertation: Population and community impacts of extreme events in coastal marine ecosystems

Graduate Research Assistant (2010-2011) Bodega Ocean Acidification Research (BOAR)

B.S. (2008), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Highest Honors, University of California Santa Cruz

Research Assistant (2006-2008), Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), University of California Santa Cruz

Postdoctoral Research

I am currently working with an international, collaborative research project–Biogeographic Variation in Interaction Strength and Invasions at the Ocean’s Nearshore (BioVISION)– led by Amy Freestone (Temple University), Greg Ruiz (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD) and Mark Torchin (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama).

Through broadly replicated experiments, we are investigating how biotic interactions (predation and competition) shape communities and their resistance to invasion, across a latitudinal gradient. I am also working to understand how fish predators influence the response of tropical invertebrate communities to hurricane disturbance.

I can be found variously in Pacific Panama, northern California, southeast Alaska, Philadelphia and La Paz, Mexico.

Related publications:

Dissertation Research

Understanding organism-scale climate on rocky shores

Like many high-biodiversity ecosystems, including rain forests and coral reefs, rocky intertidal ecosystems are dominated by habitat-forming organisms that shelter numerous other species. Current methods of assessing species’ risk from climate change in this vulnerable ecosystem are limited by a lack of information about the extent to which habitat-forming species alter environmental conditions experienced by inhabitant organisms.

Much of my dissertation research examined how common, widespread habitat-formers (mussels and seaweeds) influence the magnitude and frequency of stressful temperature and desiccation events for inhabitant organisms, and how those effects compare with other important factors at larger spatial scales, like shore elevation, latitude and regional climate.

Related publications:

  • LJ Jurgens and B Gaylord. Biogenic habitats overwhelm latitudinal effects on high-temperature trends. Ecology Letters.  
  • LJ Jurgens and B Gaylord. 2016. Edge effects reverse facilitation in a widespread foundation species. Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/srep37573 http://www.nature.com/articles/srep37573    Jurgens&Gaylord_2016.pdf

Population and community responses to an extreme mortality event: new insights into ecological roles and the dynamics of recovery

I also collaborated with scientists at UC Davis and UC Merced to investigate population impacts, community responses and recovery dynamics following an extremely severe regional mass mortality of benthic marine invertebrates on the north-central California coast in 2011, which occurred during a harmful algal bloom (HAB) in late August 2011.

I am still conducting long-term monitoring of recovery dynamics and community changes related to the removal of key species, particularly sea urchins and predatory sea stars.

Related publications:

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