29 April 2011
Posted in DNA Day
Dr. Walters’ research focuses on human impacts in the marine environment. She is interested in both pure ecology questions and goal-based conservation issues for a wide range of marine and estuarine habitats in the Caribbean and the southeastern US, especially the Indian River Lagoon system (IRL) and the Florida Keys. In the IRL, her program focuses on understanding interactions among organisms on intertidal oyster reefs (including invasive barnacles and mussels), as well as looking at the impacts of recreational boat wakes on the recent declines of these reefs. They are collaborating with The Nature Conservancy on community-based restoration of this critical habitat. Other on-going research in the IRL includes studies on mangroves and salt marsh plants, boat propeller scar impacts on seagrass beds, and dispersal and allelopathic impacts of invasive Brazilian pepper on native flora. Additional research in her lab on invasive species has targeted dispersal of one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species, Caulerpa taxifolia, via e-commerce and retail shops. Outreach to the aquarium industry is currently underway with colleagues from CA Sea Grant. In the Florida Keys, Bahamas and Virgin Islands, she has been collaborating with many scientists to better understand how increases in abundances of certain species of macroalgae significantly reduces recruitment and survival of hard corals and how the return of the long-spined sea urchin Diadema antillarium may change this pattern.