My research is focused on understanding the role of organisms in changing nutrient availability within their communities and how these interactions might affect community development and stability. I use manipulative experiments in nearshore marine habitats to examine how “resource providers” affect other members of their communities. Most of my work is with plant-animal interactions within seagrass ecosystems along the eastern coast of the U.S. Despite the recognized importance of seagrasses, the critical environmental factors limiting seagrass assemblages are poorly understood, as are the biological interactions that directly and indirectly affect the health of seagrass ecosystems. Recent projects have included looking at the role of sponges in Florida Bay to control phytoplankton blooms and increase light availability to the benthic plant community, the effect of marine protected areas on changing trophic transfer from nearby seagrass foraging grounds on both “no take” and unprotected reefs and the possibility of herbivorous fish creating nutrient “hot spots” around patch reefs. The future direction within my lab will be to focus on positive interactions, bentho-pelagic coupling in near shore environments and ecosystem engineering. Currently, we are investigating the role of hard clams in alleviating light stress of eelgrass by providing elevated nutrients to the sediments via their fecal production and the consequences of the dramatic decrease in hard clam abundance within the Long Island south shore estuaries on eelgrass spatial distribution.
We employ a team approach to problem solving and are carrying out both laboratory and field studies primarily of seagrass-dominated ecosystems at the population and community levels. I have a long-standing interest in elucidating the role played by positive interactions in marine community organization and incorporating positive interactions into current community development models. I am looking for students who are interested in combining community ecology and biogeochemistry to address questions pertaining to the biotic role in controlling nearshore community development and stability.
Duckworth, A. R. and B. J. Peterson. 2013. Effects of seawater temperature and pH on the boring rates of the sponge Cliona celata in scallop shells. Marine Biology 160: 27-35.
Rountos, K. J., B. J. Peterson and I. Karakassis. 2012. Indirect effects of fish cage aquaculture on shallow Posidonia oceanica seagrass patches in coastal Greek waters. Aquaculture Environment Interactions 2: 105-115.
Neckles, H., B. Kopp, B. J. Peterson and P. Pooler. 2012. Integrating scales of seagrass monitoring to meet conservation needs. Estuaries and Coasts 35: 23-46.
Wall, C. C., B. J. Peterson and C. J. Gobler. 2011. The growth of estuarine resources (Zostera marina, Mercenaria mercenaria, Crassostrea virginica, Argopecten irradians, Cyprinodon variegates) in response to nutrient loading and enhancement of suspension-feeding by adult shellfish. Estuaries and Coasts 34: 1262-1277.
Goleski, J. A., F. Koch, C. C. Wall, M. A. Marcoval-Pan, F. J. Jochem, B. J. Peterson and C. J. Gobler. 2010. The role of zooplankton grazing and nutrient loading in the occurrence of harmful cyanobacterial blooms in Florida Bay, FL, USA. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 1202-1215.
Carroll, J. M., B. J. Peterson, D. Bonal, A. Weinstock, C. F. Smith and S. T. Tettelbach. 2010. Comparative survival of bay scallops in eelgrass and the introduced alga, Codium fragile, in a New York estuary. Marine Biology 157:249-259.
Carroll, J., C. J. Gobler and B. J. Peterson. 2008. Resource- restricted growth of eelgrass in New York estuaries: light limitation, and alleviation of nutrient stress by hard clams. Marine Ecology Progress Series 369:51-62.
Valentine, J. F., K. L. Heck, Jr., B. J. Peterson, D. Blackmon, J. Christian, M. Goecker, R. M. Kroutil, M. Vanderklift and M. Beck. 2008. Exploited species impacts on trophic linkages along reef-seagrass interfaces in the Florida keys. Ecological Applications 18: 1501-1515.
Wall, C. C., B. J. Peterson, and C. J. Gobler. 2008. The facilitation of eelgrass (Zostera marina) productivity by suspension feeding bivalves in an experimental setting. Marine Ecology Progress Series 357: 165-174.
Peterson, B. J., T. Frankovich and J. C. Zieman. 2007. Response of seagrass epiphyte loading to field manipulations of fertilization, gastropod grazing and leaf turnover rates. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 349: 61-72.
Weiss, M. B., P. B. Curran, B. J. Peterson and C. J. Gobler. 2007. The influence of water quality on hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria L.) populations across Long Islandís south shore lagoon estuaries. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 345: 12-25.
Valentine, J. F., K. L. Heck, Jr., D. Blackmon, M. E. Goecker, J. Christian, R. M. Kroutil,
K. D. Kirsch, B. J. Peterson, M. Beck and M. A. Vanderklift. 2007. Food web interactions along seagrass-coral reef boundaries: an experimental test of the impacts of piscivore reduction on cross-habitat energy exchange using the marine protected areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 333: 37-50.
Warren, J. D. and B. J. Peterson. 2007. Classification of estuarine bottom habitat and
vegetation canopy height using backscatter intensity from an acoustic doppler current profiler. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 72: 53-62.
Peterson, B. J., C. M. Chester and J. W. Fourqurean. 2006. The role of the sponge
community in controlling phytoplankton blooms in Florida Bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 328: 93-103
Gobler, C. J., Thibault, D.B., Davis, T.W., Curran, P.B., Peterson, B. J., Liddle, L.B. 2006.
Algal assemblages associated with Stegastes sp. territories on Indo-Pacific coral reefs: Characterization of diversity and controls on growth. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 336: 135-145
Fourqurean, J. W., J. N. Boyer, M. J. Durako, L. N. Hefty and B. J. Peterson. 2003. Forecasting responses of seagrass distributions to changing water quality using monitoring data. Ecological Applications 13(2): 474-489
Peterson, B. J., C. D. Rose, L. Rutten and J. W. Fourqurean. 2002. Disturbance and recovery following catastrophic grazing: studies of a successional chronosequence in a seagrass bed. Oikos 97: 361-370.
Peterson, B. J., K. R. Thompson, K. L. Heck, Jr., and J. H. Cowan, Jr. 2001. Comparison of predation pressure in temperate and subtropical regions based on chronographic tethering. Marine Ecology Progress Series 224: 77-85.
Peterson, B. J. and K. L. Heck. 2001. An experimental test of the mechanism by which suspension feeding bivalves elevate seagrass productivity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 218: 115-125.
Peterson, B. J. and J.W. Fourqurean. 2001. Large-scale patterns in seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) demographics in south Florida. Limnology and Oceanography 46:1077-1090.
Peterson, B. J. and K. L. Heck. 2001. Interactions between suspension feeding bivalves and seagrass assemblages - a facultative mutualism. Marine Ecology Progress Series 213: 143-155.
Peterson, B. J. and K. L. Heck. 1999. The potential for suspension feeding bivalves to increase seagrass productivity. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and
Peterson, B. J. 1998. Accelerated decomposition of Caulerpa paspaloides due to the
grazing influence of Oxynoe azuropunctata. Gulf of Mexico Science 15(2):93-96.
Peterson, B. J. 1998. Morphology and ultrastructure of the feeding apparatus of
Sayella fusca (C. B. Adams, 1839). Journal of Molluscan Studies 64: 281-296.