Brynn Hooton-Kaufman

I am interested in the ecology of habitat-forming species.  For my thesis research I am studying how fishes associate with the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida in Monterey Harbor.   

California kelp forests are dynamic and complex systems in which a web of interactions occur among the many associated organisms.  This complexity often makes it difficult to study the relationship between a single organism and its habitat.  

In 2001, Undaria was first observed in Monterey Harbor, and although eradication efforts and management efforts removed over 17,000 individuals by 2008, Undaria persists and has become a permanent part of the system.   Undaria is the only major source of kelp habitat present in the harbor.  As a result, this colonization introduced a new kelp habitat to organisms, and provided a unique opportunity to study habitat associations in a taxonomically simple environment as compared to the dynamic kelp forests nearby.  

The primary goals of my research are to identify what species of fishes associate with Undaria, what mechanisms drive them to form these associations, and how these associations lead to more complex interactions such as mutualisms. 


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