Douglas C. McNaught
Title: Assistant Professor of Marine Ecology
Location: Science 117
University of Maine at Machias
9 O’Brien Ave.
Machias, ME 04654
Office Hours: Click here for PDF
Mon. 1:30-2:30PM and Wed. 10-11AM:
- Ph.D., Oceanography & Marine Ecology, University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, Orono, Maine USA 1999
- Dissertation: The indirect effects of macroalgae and micropredation on the post-settlement success of the green sea urchin in Maine
- B.A., Biology, Carleton College, MN 1991
- Asst. Professor of Marine Biology, Univ. of Maine at Machias - 2007 – present
- Asst. Professor of Marine Ecology, Victoria Univ. of Wellington, New Zealand - 2003-2006
- Post-Doctoral Fellow, Brown University, RI, USA – 2000-2003
My research strives to understand the organization of ecological communities by examining the physical and biological factors that control the distribution of different species within a community. I am most interested in understanding how ecological communities change over time and space and how they can be maintained. I therefore conduct experiments to determine what processes and mechanisms account for the origin and the maintenance of community structure and function. Some models of community change that I am currently investigating include alternative stable states, community succession, and positive feedbacks. I enjoy using such conceptual ecological models to form hypotheses and experimental designs.
I am broadly inte rested in a number of basic ecological themes including the following. 1) What are the relative roles of natural disturbance, predation, and/or human disturbance (i.e. fishing or trawling) as perturbations to community change? 2) What are the indirect biotic effects (i.e. habitat architecture, cascading effects, and indirect mutualisms) and abiotic effects (i.e. wave disturbance and water flow) that allow for the maintenance of communities? 3) How are benthic and pelagic communities coupled through larval supply and recruitment?
To this end, I have focused on community change within the marine realm primarily involving macroalgae and marine invertebrates. My research is strongly field-oriented and relies on both natural and manipulative field and laboratory experiments. I believe that this two-prong approach allows investigators to first identify dominant ecological patterns while also testing predictions that arise from them. Manipulative experiments can then disentangle competing alternative hypotheses.
In the Gulf of Maine, I have studied how community change occurs in the rocky subtidal. Here, I have looked at how the anthropogenic effects of urchin harvesting have caused a cascading community change from one dominated by urchins and herbivore-resistant, crustose coralline algae (‘urchin barrens’) to one dominated by fleshy macroalgae. I have found that this change has been maintained by a feedback mechanism. Newly settling urchins within the macroalgal beds are more susceptible to predation by small micro-invertebrates such as newly-settled crabs. This, therefore, makes it more difficult for the urchin population to reestablish in the macroalgal beds since there is higher juvenile urchin mortality than there is in the crustose coralline communities. Such a positive feedback loop is the category of mechanism that can allow for the persistence of a community and is, I suspect, a common feature that needs further identification in other marine and terrestrial communities.
- Introduction to Oceanography (ENV103)
- Algal Biology (BIO352)
- Biological Oceanography (BIO309)
- BIO482 Marine Biology Seminar
- BIO305 Research Seminar
- Independent Study (IND301) and Research Projects