Dr. Stuart Sandin

Dr. Stuart Sandin

Dr. Stuart SandinMarine Ecologist
Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla
CA 92093-0202, USA
Tel: +001 858 534 4150
E-mail: ssandin@ucsd.edu
Education and Degrees:
1994 B.Sc. Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, University of California, San Diego
2002 Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Recent publications relevant to Curacao:

  • Sandin, S.A., M.J.A. Vermeij, A.H. Hurlbert. Island biogeography of Caribbean coral reef fish. Global Ecology and Biogeography. (in press)
  • Sandin, S.A., E.M. Sampayo, M.J.A. Vermeij. 2008. Coral reef fish and benthic community structure of Bonaire and Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. Caribbean Journal of Science 44: 137-144.
  • Vermeij, M.J.A. and S.A. Sandin. 2008. Density-dependent settlement and mortality structure the earliest life phases of a coral population.
    Ecology 89: 1994-2004.
  • Vermeij, M.J.A., S.A. Sandin, J.F. Samhouri. 2007. Local habitat composition determines the relative frequency and interbreeding
    potential for two Caribbean coral morphotypes. Evolutionary Ecology 21: 27-47.
  • Sandin, S.A. and S.W. Pacala. 2005. Fish aggregation results in inversely density dependent predation on continuous coral reefs. Ecology
    6: 1520–1
  • Hawn, A.T., G.B. Martin, S.A. Sandin, J.A. Hare. 2005. Early juvenile mortality in a cohort of Chromis cyanea: the growth-mortality hypothesis revisited. Bulletin of Marine Science 77: 309-318.
  • Vermeij, M.J.A. and S.A. Sandin. 2004. Coral species complexes through space and time: an illustration of their dynamics using Madracis in the Caribbean. Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium 1: 116-121.

General research interests:
Coral reef fish ecology; population regulation; fisheries dynamics; human impacts on marine ecosystems; coral resilience and climate change

Research interests on Curacao:
My research explores the dominant dynamics that structure marine communities, with a focus to date on coral reef communities. My dissertation research in Curacao and Bonaire focused on the study of coral reef fish population dynamics, including theoretical and empirical components.

Since moving to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I have focused on describing the dramatic changes in reef community structure across a large gradient of human impact in the central Pacific. Most recently I have been coupling these perspectives to describe the effects of human impacts on the dynamics of reef communities. I intend to expand this work to understand how variation in community structure of benthic communities equates to predictable variation in key ecological functions.

In Curacao, a group of colleagues and I are aiming to address questions of coral reef restoration, exploring ways to build resilience in coral assemblages. Although the loss of herbivores and increase of nutrient pollution are known to cause the loss of reef-building corals, a so-called phase shift from coral- to fleshy algal domination, it remains uncertain whether the reverse dynamic is possible. Can restoration of herbivory and reduction in pollution enable corals to re-establish where they once thrived?

To address this question, we are commencing an experimental manipulation of herbivores on a degraded reef tract on Curacao.
By elevating herbivore density within large-scale enclosures, we will document the functional shifts (or lack thereof) that follow from the increase in herbivory, including rates of coral recruitment and mortality, and changes in the microbial community. A time-course of community responses to increases of herbivory has never been documented in such detail, especially coupling microbial and ‘macrobial’ dynamics, and will provide invaluable insights for coral reef management.

The biological and logistical opportunities available at Carmabi and on Curacao are uniquely suited to support such a challenging experimental endeavor.