Where We Work

Much of our research is concentrated around Long Island, NY.  However, we are involved in projects which have us doing field work in Florida, and internationally in Jamaica and Panama.  Below are lists of locations and research:

Long Island

Long Island, NY Research Sites

1) Hudson River


2) Jamaica Bay

  • National Park Service estuarine condition monitoring
  • Effect of hydroperiod and organic load on salt marsh health

3) Great South Bay

  • National Park Service estuarine condition monitoring
  • Genetic assessment of eelgrass  Zostera marina
  • Impacts of multiple stressors on eelgrass populations
  • Great South Bay ecosystem study
  • Effects of hard clam restoration on benthic biodiversity
  • Shallow water hard clam survey


4) Moriches Bay and Forge River

  • Seagrass habitat mapping study
  • Assessment of benthic macrofauna in the eutrophied Forge River

5) Shinnecock Bay

  • Genetic assessment of eelgrass populations
  • Impacts of multiple stressors on eelgrass populations
  • Impact of nutrient loading, bivalve filtration and plankton communities on estuarine resources
  • Influence of ocean exchange on nutrients, plankton, SAV and shellfish
  • Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project
  • Investigation of mechanisms controlling size and formation of natural seagrass patches
  • Monitoring newly settled blue crab densities in multiple habitats
  • Investigating the impacts of an invasive alga on native fauna


6) Peconic Bays

  • Genetic assessment of eelgrass populations
  • Assessment of groundwater herbicide toxicity on seagrass
  • Evaluation of groundwater on eelgrass and epiphyte grazer populations
  • Restoration of Peconic bay scallop populations and fisheries
  • Evaluation of alternative habitats on bay scallop survival and growth

7) Orient Harbor

  • Restoration of Peconic bay scallop populations
  • Impacts of seagrass patch architecture on scallop recruitment, growth and survival

Southeastern U.S.

Florida Research Sites

1) Gulf Coast

  • Investigating the genetic diversity of turtle grass, Thalassia testudinum

2) Florida Bay/Florida Keys

  • Marine reserve effectiveness in restoring coastal food webs
  • Impacts of freshwater discharge variability and benthic and pelagic grazing on phytoplankton in Florida Bay
  • The role of filter feeding sponges on controlling phyoplankton blooms and seagrass health
  • The role of herbivorous fish in creating nutrient “hot spots” around patch reefs



Research sites in the Caribbean

1) Discovery Bay, Jamaica

  • Winter field course in Tropical Marine Ecology
  • Influence of megaresort shore development on reef sedimentation and sponge communities
  • Impacts of leaf tissue nutrient content on herbivory

2) Bocas Del Torro, Panama

  • Investigation of ocean acidification on sponge-coral interactions

Recent Posts

2018 Call for Summer Research Assistants

The Peterson Marine Community Ecology Lab is seeking to interview and select eight to ten (8 – 10) highly motivated volunteer research assistants for summer 2018 to work on several dissertation and monitoring projects. Research hours can be used towards research credit hours with Dr. Bradley Peterson. (High school students, please take note: the minimum age to be considered for a volunteer position with us is 17).

Volunteers will be asked to commit at least two days per week from late May/June through August. Exact starting and end dates are negotiable.

We specifically look for people who are comfortable and enjoy being outdoors, especially in the field on boats and in the water. Volunteers should be in good physical shape and enjoy hands-on work. Ability to swim is a requirement. Certified divers are strongly encouraged to apply.

If interested, please send your CV/resume and a list of available meeting times to Diana Chin and Stephen Heck (diana.chin@stonybrook.edu, heck.stephen@gmail.com). Please note that it is unlikely that you will work exclusively on one project, though you might work primarily on one or two. We think that exploring a variety of research questions and methods is essential to your scientific development!

Summer Research Topics:

Steve Heck: predator-prey interactions among fish, crabs, and bivalves

Steve will be researching how black sea bass influence trophic cascades that govern the survival of bivalves such as blue mussels and bay scallops. Experiments will be conducted both in mesocosm tanks at the Stony Brook University Southampton Marine Station as well as in the field in Shinnecock Bay, NY.

Alyson Lowell: seagrasses and ocean acidification

Alyson will employ a myriad of field and laboratory approaches to investigate how carbon dioxide enrichment affects carbonate chemistry in seagrass communities and whether seagrasses will serve as a refuge for marine organisms in a high CO2 world. Students working with her will be exposed to exciting field and laboratory techniques and will be taught to run successful ocean acidification experiments. Volunteers who are field oriented and SCUBA certified are encouraged.

Kaitlyn O’Toole: water quality and bio-optical modeling

This summer Kaitlyn will be continuing work on a bio-optical model (generally having to do with how much light reaches the bottom of the water column), which will be used to target feasible areas of seagrass restoration. This involves plenty of fieldwork in both Peconic and Great South Bay: water sampling weekly, SCUBA transect dives for site characteristics, productivity and epiphyte measurements in seagrass, sediment sampling, tidal/wave current velocity measurements, and drone imagery of seagrass sites. Kaitlyn is typically out on the water 1-3 times a week, depending on the weather. You will learn how to collect and filter whole water samples, use the equipment to measure water column properties, learn about and snorkel (or SCUBA if certified) around seagrass, learn sampling techniques for seagrass, water, and sediments, and obtain boating experience.

Leah Reidenbach: food webs, invertebrate physiology, and ocean acidification

Leah will be developing a method for using underwater photomosaics as a tool for building food webs in seagrass ecosystems. She will compare food webs across a eutrophication gradient to test if food web characteristics can determine differences in ecosystem stability. Volunteers will get experience with fieldwork and sampling animal tissue for stable isotope analysis. She will also be testing the effects of ocean acidification and temperature on mud crab physiology. Here, volunteers will get experience with setting up ocean acidification experiments and testing animal physiology responses such as respiration and calcification.

Dylan Cottrell: seagrass community ecology

Dylan will broadly focus on species distributions, edge effects, habitat complexity, and/or seagrass community responses along a stress gradient (namely eutrophication).

Other Monitoring and Research

The lab will be deploying eelgrass- and shellfish-based restoration projects and conducting assessments of water quality, seagrass, and fauna in Great South Bay and Shinnecock Bay. For example, Diana Chin will be leading the Peterson lab’s benthic surveys for the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP).

We hope to hear from you soon!

  1. Early Birds Leave a reply
  2. February 2018 Leave a reply
  3. Welcome New Graduate Students! Leave a reply
  4. Benthic Ecology Meeting 2017 Leave a reply
  5. 2017 Call for Summer Research Assistants Leave a reply
  6. Spring 2017 Series #1 Leave a reply
  7. Meet an Oceanographer at Riverhead Aquarium Leave a reply
  8. October 2016 Leave a reply
  9. Call for Summer Research Assistants Leave a reply