Max Overstrom-Coleman

image of Max Overstrom-Coleman

I am an experimental ecologist interested in applied experimental ecology as an investigation tool for population dynamic studies. I am interested in three types of questions: relationships between habitat forming species and their communities, the evolutionary history of those relationships, and how those interactions effect species with significant impact on human economics. I am also interested in the dynamics within kelp communities as they respond to changes in external pressures, of both anthropogenic and non-human induced origin.

My thesis research involves the significance of macrophyte-derived particulate organic matter (POM) to kelp forest communities. Specifically, I am describing the spatial and temporal distribution of macrophyte-derived POM and its ecological significance to kelp forest invertebrate assemblages. The spatial and temporal distribution of benthic macrophyte-derived POM (measured as particulate organic carbon) is being measured within and away from the kelp forest at Stillwater Cove, CA. I am particularly interested in variability in POM concentrations with respect to the boundaries of the kelp forest. Macrophyte-derived POM could enrich background plankton-derived POM levels to impact kelp forest invertebrate assemblages. Due to the possibility that the carbon could be plankton-derived or macrophyte-derived, the second goal of this project is to identify the role local macrophyte-derived POM plays in the diet of kelp forest filter-feeding invertebrates using stable isotope signatures from invertebrate filter-feeder tissues. In the end this research will help in characterizing the impact of kelp productivity to the kelp forest via indirect trophic pathways.

Additionally, I am studying the impact of winter storms on kelp forest algal and invertebrate assemblages. Winter storms have broad impacts on kelp forest systems. However, it has been hypothesized that the earliest storms of the season have the highest impact. Opportunistically, I studied the impact of a single late-season storm of extremely high magnitude (March 2005) at three site in Monterey County (Stillwater Cove, Hopkins Marine Life Refuge, and Point Lobos). Data were collected immediately before and after the storm event and support the hypothesis that the timing of the storm has the greatest impact on disturbance to kelp forest assemblages.

Contact info:

Max Overstrom-Coleman
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
8272 Moss Landing Rd.
Moss Landing, CA 95039-9647
Phone #: 831-771-4421
Fax #: 831-632-4403
e-mail: mocoleman@mlml.calstate.edu