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Division Head, Marine Sciences

Ph.D., 1980, Yale University

Benthic ecology, population and community dynamics.



Research Interests

I am a quantitative field ecologist interested in the patterns and drivers of populations and communities in space and time.  My primary research areas have involved: 1) linking age structure, growth, other demographic, physiological, and life history characteristics of species to varying environmental conditions, 2) determining the effects of suspension feeders on trophic structure in shallow embayments, and 3) relating community structure in space and time to major environmental factors, including those associated with climate.  The populations and communities I study are primarily benthic, but there are exceptions (e.g., giant squid, white perch).  My research is inherently interdisciplinary and collaborative, and I especially enjoy developing and addressing questions with colleagues in a variety of disciplines (e.g., fisheries ecology, geology, physiological ecology, plankton ecology, archaeology).  My interest is to investigate natural biotic systems at realistic spatial and temporal scales, an approach that usually requires extensive field and laboratory work.

Currently and on the horizon over the next few years are several projects to utilize or generate data sets with rich spatial-temporal resolution.  The goal is to assess the vulnerability of species, trophic interactions, and communities with respect to stressors ranging from eutrophication, habitat alteration, and overfishing to climate change.  These projects are utilizing a variety of emerging field and lab techniques (e.g., fine-scale acoustic telemetry, stable isotopes), modelling (e.g., state-space), and multivariate statistical analyses (e.g., spatial-temporal direct analyses).


Selected Publications

Bopp, J., M. Sclafani, D. Smith, K. McKown, R. Sysak, R. Cerrato (2019) Geographic-specific capture-recapture models reveal contrasting migration and survival rates of adult horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus).  Estuaries and Coasts 42: 1570-1585.

Ingram E. C., R. M. Cerrato1, K. J. Dunton, and M. G. Frisk (2019) Endangered Atlantic sturgeon in the New York Wind Energy Area: implications of future development in an offshore wind energy site. Scientific Reports 9: 12432,

Bond, M., J. Valentin-Albanese, E. Babcock, M. Heithaus, D. Grubbs, R. Cerrato, B. Peterson,  E. Pikitch, D. Chapman (2019) Top predators induce habitat shifts in prey within marine protected areas. Oecologia 190: 375-385.

McCartin, K., A. Jordaan, M. Sclafani, R. Cerrato, M.G. Frisk (2019) A New Paradigm in Alewife Migration: Oscillations Between Spawning Grounds and Estuarine Habitats. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 148: 605-619.

Shipley, O.N., J.A. Olin, M. Power, R.M. Cerrato, M.G. Frisk (2019) Questioning assumptions of trophic behavior in a marine predator guild. Ecography 42: 1-13.

Donaton, J., K. Durham, R.M. Cerrato, J.Schwerzmann, L. Thorne (2019) Long-term changes in loggerhead sea turtle diet indicate shifts in the benthic community associated with warming temperatures. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 218: 139-147.

Wang C., Cerrato RM, Fisher NS (2018) Temporal changes in 137Cs concentrations in fish, sediments, and seawater off Fukushima Japan. Environmental Science and Technology. 52: 13119-13126.

Nye, J.A., M.G. Frisk, R.M. Cerrato, M. Sclafani, C.N. Flagg, S.R. Sagarese and J.A. Olin (2018) Effects of a storm-induced barrier breach on community assemblages and ecosystem structure within a temperate lagoonal estuary: A post Hurricane Sandy analysis. Natural Resource Report NPS/NCBN/NRR—2018/1702. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. 49 pp.

Phillips, J.M., V. M. Bricelj, M. Mitch, R.M. Cerrato, S. MacQuarrie, L.B. Connell (2018) Biogeography of resistance to paralytic shellfish toxins in softshell clam, (L.), populations along the Atlantic coast of North America. Aquatic Toxicology 202: 196-206.

Hornstein, J., E. Pales Espinosa, R.M. Cerrato, K.M.M. Lwiza, B. Allam (2018) The influence of temperature stress on the physiology of the Atlantic surfclam, . Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A 222: 66-73.

Flanagan A.M., R.D. Flood, M.G. Frisk, C.D. Garza, G.R. Lopez, N.P. Maher, R.M. Cerrato (2018) The relationship between observational scale and explained variance in benthic communities. PLoS ONE 131): e0189313.

Martinez, C., Duplisea, D., Cerrato, R., Frisk, M (2017) Exploration of interspecific abundance-occupancy relationships using empirically derived simulated communities. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0170816. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170816

Lee C-S., Lutcavage M.E., Chandler E., Madigan, D.J., Cerrato R.M., Fisher N.S (2016) Declining mercury concentrations in bluefin tuna reflect reduced emissions into the North Atlantic. Env. Sci. Tech. 50(23): 12825-12830.

Pales Espinosa, E., R.M. Cerrato, G. Wikfors, B. Allam (2016) Modeling food choice in suspension-feeding bivalves, Crassostrea virginica and Mytilus edulis.  Mar. Biol. 163: 40-53.

Sagarese, S.R., M.G. Frisk, R.M. Cerrato, K.A. Sosebee, J.A. Musick, and P.J. Rago (2016) Diel variations in survey catch rates and survey catchability of Spiny Dogfish Squalus acanthias and their pelagic prey in the Northeast US continental shelf large marine ecosystem. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 8: 244-262.

Sagarese, S.R., M.G. Frisk, R.M. Cerrato, K.A. Sosebee, J.A. Musick, and P.J. Rago (2015) Spatio-temporal overlap of spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and commercial fisheries in the northeast US shelf large marine ecosystem. Fish. Bull. 113: 101-120.

Flanagan, A.M. and R.M. Cerrato (2015) Testing the utility of the classic Folk (1954) grain size classes in quantitatively describing benthic community structure in soft-sediment, estuarine environments. Continental Shelf Research 109: 55-66.

Yencho, M.A., A. Jordaan, R.M.Cerrato, H. Baumann, and M.G. Frisk (2015) Growth and mortality in coastal populations of Winter Flounder: Implications for recovery of a depleted population.  Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science 7: 246-259.

Gallagher, B.K., L.A. Hice, A.E. McElroy, R.M. Cerrato, and M.G. Frisk (2015) Factors Influencing Daily Growth in Young-of-the-Year Winter Flounder along an Urban Gradient Revealed Using Hierarchical Linear Models. Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science, 7: 200-219.

McCauley, M.M., R.M. Cerrato, M. Sclafani, M.G. Frisk. Diel behavior in White Perch (Morone americana) revealed using acoustic telemetry (2014) Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 143: 1330-1340.

McNamara, M.E., D.J. Lonsdale, and R.M. Cerrato (2014) The role of eutrophication in structuring planktonic communities in the presence of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi.  Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 510: 151-165

Sagarese, S.R., M.G. Frisk, R.M. Cerrato, K.A. Sosebee, J.A. Musick, and P.J. Rago (2014) Application of generalized additive models to examine ontogenetic and seasonal distributions of spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) in the Northeast (US) shelf large marine ecosystem.  Can J. Fish. Aq. Sci. 71: 847-877.

Rountos, K.J., Y.Z. Tang, R.M. Cerrato, C.J. Gobler, E.K. Pikitch (2014) Toxicity of the harmful dinoflagellate, Cochlodinium polykrikoides, to early life stages of three estuarine forage fish. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 505: 81-94

Lopez, G., D. Carey, J. Carlton, R. Cerrato, H. Dam, R. DiGiovanni, C. Elphick, M. Frisk, C. Gobler, L. Hice, P. Howell, A. Jordaan, S. Lin, S. Liu, D. Lonsdale, M. McEnroe, K. McKown, G. McManus, R. Orson, B. Peterson, C. Pickerell, R. Rozsa, A. Siuda, E. Thomas, G. Taylor, S. Shumway, S. Talmage, M. Van Patten, J. Vaudrey, G. Wikfors, C. Yarish, and R. Zajac (2013) Biology and Ecology of Long Island Sound. Chapter 6.  In: Long Island Sound: Prospects for the Urban Sea, J. S. Latimer, M. A. Tedesco, R. L. Swanson, C. Yarish, P. E. Stacey, and C. Garza, eds. Springer, New York. pp 285- 479.

McNamara, M.E., D.J. Lonsdale, and R.M. Cerrato (2013) Top-down control of mesozooplankton by adult Mnemiopsis leidyi influences microplankton abundance and composition enhancing prey conditions for larval ctenophores.  Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science 133: 2-10.

Cerrato, R.M., P.V. LoCicero, S.L. Goodbred (2013) Response of mollusc assemblages to climate variability and anthropogenic activities: A 4000-year record from a shallow bar-built lagoon system. Global Change Biology 19: 3024-3036.

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