Welcome to the Marine Conservation Ecology Lab

In SDSU’s Marine Conservation Ecology Lab, our primary goal is to investigate the processes that control the abundance and diversity of animal life in nearshore habitats.  Using field experiments, lab experiments, and mathematical modeling, we explore a number of ecologically based issues in the coastal oceans, including:

  • the role of habitat structure in dictating biodiversity, animal behavior, and ecosystem function in marine seascapes;
  • the factors that dictate the effectiveness of coastal nursery habitats like seagrasses and rocky reefs;
  • the ecological relationships among organisms in kelp forests, such as spiny lobsters, sea urchins, and abalone;
  • processes that control the abundance and distribution of invasive species.

People in the lab

In our lab, PhD, MS, and undergraduate students work together to investigate ecological issues ranging from the ecology of individual species to entire communities.  Click below to find out more about Dr. Hovel and the students doing research in the lab.

Seagrass ecology

Seagrass habitat provides an excellent experimental model system for research on a variety of ecological levels, from behavioral ecology to the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Spiny lobster ecology

The California spiny lobster is an understudied but economically valuable fishery species in California and Mexico.  Our research on spiny lobsters involves testing hypotheses about predator avoidance, lobster habitat use and movement, and the top-down effects of lobsters on benthic communities.

Eelgrass blades colonized by anemones

Invasive species research

Bays and estuaries are prime environments for new species to be introduced to marine ecosystems.  The eelgrass habitat of Mission Bay and San Diego Bay has been invaded by numerous species, which may alter the benthic environment and create fundamental changes to the estuarine ecosystem.