Robert Steneck

SteneckEducation:  Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University 1983

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Email Address:

Phone:  207.581.5315

Location:  Darling Marine Center

Mailing Address:  Darling Marine Center, 193 Clarks Cove Rd, Walpole, ME  04573



Research Area:

I study the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems. My laboratories are in the Gulf of Maine and Caribbean. My students and I study organisms import to these ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Specifically, in Maine I’ve explored kelp forests ecosystems for over 20 years learning about lobsters, sea urchins and fish stocks in this region. I also have worked extensively throughout the Caribbean and tropical Pacific studying coral reef from both biological and geological perspectives.



I study ecological processes in the benthic marine realm. My experiments focus on the food webs, structure and dominant organisms of coastal marine communities. My “laboratory” is the Gulf of Maine’s subtidal zone in which I use SCUBA diving, under- water video systems, manned submersibles and the University of Maine’s remotely operated vehicle as primary research tools. I’m currently studying lobsters, sea urchin and kelp in Maine. I also work on the ecology of coral reefs in the Caribbean. In all cases my focus is on in situ ecology. I think an important way to understand the organisms or the system is to observe them first hand – in their habitat. The work is at the organism level and integrates between small scale (i.e., behavioral phenomena) with large scale (oceanographic) processes. By applying basic ecology to human marine resource and management questions, I am able to conduct studies that are both interesting and enormously useful for people who make their living from the sea. The best way for me to give a flavor of my research activities is to show my current research programs, grants and resultant publications. Many of the studies involved my graduate students who have published their theses. I think it is important to give students the opportunity to learn by doing. Students who work under my direction get involved with all aspects of basic research from proposal writing, deploying experiments, gathering data and writing papers.