Select Page

Bradley J. Peterson

PetersonAssociate Professor

Ph.D., 1998, Dauphin Island Sea Lab/ University of South Alabama

Community ecology of seagrass dominated ecosystems

Peterson Laboratory page

Google Scholar Profile




Research Interests

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.


Furman, B. T. and B. J. Peterson.  2015.  Sexual Recruitment in Zostera marina: Progress toward a Predictive Model.  PLoS ONE 10(9): e0138206. 

Stubler, A. D., B. T. Furman and B. J. Peterson.  2015.  Sponge erosion under acidification and warming scenarios: differential impacts on living and dead coral.  Global Change Biology 21(11): 4006-4020

Tettelbach, S. T., B. J. Peterson, J. M. Carroll, B. T. Furman, S. W. T. Hughes, J. Havelin, J. R. Europe, D. M. Bonal, A. J. Weinstock and C. F. Smith.  2015.  Aspiring to an Alternative Stable State: Rebuilding of Bay Scallop Populations and Fisheries Following Intensive Restoration.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 529: 121-136.

Stubler, A. D., A. R. Duckworth and B. J. Peterson.  2015.  The effects of coastal development on sponge abundance, diversity and community composition on Jamaican coral reefs.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 96: 261-270.

Berry, D. L., J. A. Goleski, F. Koch, C. C. Wall, B. J. Peterson, O. R. Anderson and C. J. Gobler.  2015.  Synechococcus blooms in Florida Bay.  Molecular Ecology 70: 361-371.

Furman, B. T., L. J. Jackson, E. Bricker and B. J. Peterson.  2015. Sexual recruitment in Zostera marina: a patch to landscape-scale investigation.  Limnology and Oceanography 60(2): 584-599.

Carroll, J. M., L. L. Jackson and B. J. Peterson.  2015.  The effect of increasing habitat complexity on bay scallop survival in the presence of different decapod crustacean predators.  Estuaries and Coasts 38: 1569-1579

Peterson, B. J., A. M. Fournier, B. T. Furman and J. M. Carroll. 2014. Hemigrapsus sanguineus in Long Island salt marshes: experimental valuation of the interactions between an invasive crab and resident ecosystem engineers. PeerJ 2:e472

Stubler, A. M., B. T. Furman and B. J. Peterson. 2014. Effects of pCO2 on the interaction between an excavating sponge, Cliona varians, and a hermatypic coral, Porites furcata. Marine Biology 161: 1851-1859.

Peterson, B. J., E. Bricker, S. J. Brisbin, B. T. Furman, A. D. Stubler, J. M. Carroll, D. L. Berry, C. J. Gobler, A. Calladine, M. Waycott. 2013. Genetic diversity and gene flow in Zostera marina populations surrounding Long Island, New York, USA: No evidence of inbreeding, genetic degradation or population isolation. Aquatic Botany 110: 61-66.

Wall, C. C., B. J. Peterson, E. Ward and C. J. Gobler. 2013. Contrasting growth patterns of suspension-feeding molluscs (Mercenaria mercenaria, Crassostrea virginica, Argopecten irradians and Crepidula fornicata) across a eutrophication gradient in the Peconic Estuary, NY, USA. Estuaries and Coasts 36: 1274-1291.

Carroll, J. M. and B. J. Peterson. 2013. Ecological trade-offs in seascape ecology: bay scallop survival and growth across a seagrass landscape. Landscape Ecology 28: 1401-1413.

Carroll, J. M. and B. J. Peterson. 2013. Comparisons in demographic rates of bay scallops in eelgrass and the introduced alga, Codium fragile, in New York . Marine Biology 160: 1451-1463.

Tettelbach, S. T., B. J. Peterson, J. M. Carroll, S. W.T. Hughes, D. Bonal, A. Weinstock, J. R. Europe, B. T. Furman, C. F. Smith. 2013. Priming the larval pump: Resergence of bay scallop recruitment after initiation of intensive restoration efforts. Marine Ecology Progress Series 478: 153-172.

Peterson, B. J., K. L. Heck and J. V. Valentine. 2013. The snapper-grunt pump: habitat modification and facilitation of the associated benthic plant communities by reef resident fish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 441: 50-54.

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 mercenariaL.) populations across Long Island’s 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 Ecology 240:37-52.

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.

2017 SoMAS Photo Competition

The SoMAS photo competition is an annual event where students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty and staff share their pictures with the SoMAS community and the general public. The Photo Competition will be divided into three categories with a single winner in each...

SoMAS Undergraduates Participate in URECA Festival

The UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH & CREATIVE ACTIVITIES (URECA) program, founded in 1987, awards research funding and travel grants to undergraduates, and is a central point of contact for students and faculty engaged in research and creative endeavors. URECA helps bring...

Peterson Lab Investigates Clam-Seagrass Mutualism in Panama

Diana Chin, a PhD candidate in the Peterson Lab, recently returned from a 14-week visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Bocas del Toro research station in Panama. She was investigating mutualism among chemosymbiotic clams and tropical seagrasses as part of her dissertation research, in collaboration with Smithsonian Staff Scientist Dr. Andrew Altieri and assistants Kevin Katcher and William Wied (SoMAS ‘16, B.S. Marine Sciences). Her research was supported by funding from the Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP), part of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and by a STRI Short-Term Fellowship.

R/V Seawolf Cruises With University of West Indies Students

For several years now, SUNY has had a partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to further collaborative research and instruction by teams of faculty members from both institutions.  As part of that collaboration Dr. Brad Peterson (SUNY) and Dayne Buddo...

SoMAS Convocation 2016

Congratulations to our graduates!  The annual SoMAS Convocation occurred on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the SAC auditorium. Students gathered with their friends and family and SoMAS faculty and staff to celebrate the completion of their journey at Stony Brook University....

2016 SoMAS Photo Competition

The SoMAS photo competition is an annual event where students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty and staff share their pictures with the SoMAS community and the general public. The Photo Competition will be divided into three categories with a single winner in each...

SoMAS Photo Competition 2015

The SoMAS photo competition is intended to be an annual event where students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty and staff will get to share their pictures with the SoMAS community and the general public. There will be three winning photos every year, one for each...

Seeds of Hope for Shinnecock Bay

SOUTHAMPTON, NY, June 18, 2014 – On Saturday, June 14, East End volunteers worked side-by-side with members of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, (SoMAS) to help revitalize Shinnecock Bay. More than 40 residents, friends and...

Students at Winter-Term Tropical Marine Ecology Course in Jamaica

Stony Brook University undergraduate and graduate students are currently on the island of Jamaica at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory for the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences' winter-term Tropical Marine Ecology course. The Lab, on the north shore of the...

Skip to toolbar