Micah Horwith
Doctoral Candidate

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Photo of Micah Horwith

Corals and trees build reefs and forests that support impressive biodiversity. These habitat-forming species modify their environments and provide physical structures upon which other organisms depend. The dynamics of habitat-forming species can therefore have special consequences, and present excellent opportunities for ecological research.

The seagrass Zostera marina (eelgrass) forms underwater meadows that host a rich community of marine life. I am interested in the basic principles that control eelgrass dynamics, and how these principles structure the meadow community. At the University of Washington I have pursued field experiments to explore several questions:

-- How does competition operate between individual eelgrass plants? How does this competition manifest at the level of whole meadows?

-- Does facilitation between individual eelgrass plants outweigh competition in certain contexts?

-- Can changes in eelgrass drive changes in the meadow's invertebrate community?

In addition to these projects, I am currently investigating the environmental effects of geoduck farming. Geoduck clams (Panopea generosa) represent an expanding fishery in Washington State, and the effects of farming activity on nearshore ecosystems are unknown. I hope to answer the following questions:

-- Does geoduck farming impact eelgrass? If so, how resilient is the eelgrass?

-- Are there detectable 'spill-over' effects of geoduck farming on adjacent eelgrass habitat?

-- How does geoduck farming affect belowground invertebrate communities?

The results of this project can be accessed here.

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UW Biology | University of Washington
Created by Lee McCoy, Updated by Jerome Tichenor, March 19, 2013