I am an ecologist primarily interested in patterns and processes of biodiversity and community assembly. I am curious about the functional, historical, and evolutionary processes that act to bring species together in space and allow them to coexist. My past work has largely examined these questions in seagrass systems, focusing on assemblages at the scale of meters to multiple continental coastlines. In the Daru Lab, I plan to leverage large sets of organismal distribution data to answer questions about how functional traits and species interactions shape regional biotas, and develop tools to visualize and analyze these assemblages in space.

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Extending trait dispersion across trophic levels: Predator assemblages act as top-down filters on prey communities ECOLOGY Gross, C. P., Stachowicz, J. J. 2024: e4320


    Studies of community assembly typically focus on the effects of abiotic environmental filters and stabilizing competition on functional trait dispersion within single trophic levels. Predation is a well-known driver of community diversity and composition, yet the role of functionally diverse predator communities in filtering prey community traits has received less attention. We examined functionally diverse communities of predators (fishes) and prey (epifaunal crustaceans) in eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds in two northern California estuaries to evaluate the filtering effects of predator traits on community assembly and how filters acting on predators influence their ability to mediate prey community assembly. Fish traits related to bottom orientation were correlated with more clustered epifauna communities, and epifauna were generally overdispersed while fishes were clustered, suggesting prey may be pushed to disparate areas of trait space to avoid capture by benthic sit-and-wait predators. We also found correlations between the trait dispersions of predator and prey communities that strengthened after accounting for the effects of habitat filters on predator dispersion, suggesting that habitat filtering effects on predator species pools may hinder their ability to affect prey community assembly. Our results present compelling observational evidence that specific predator traits have measurable impacts on the community assembly of prey, inviting experimental tests of predator trait means on community assembly and explicit comparisons of how the relative effects of habitat filters and intraguild competition on predators impact their ability to affect prey community assembly. Integrating our understanding of traits at multiple trophic levels can help us better predict the impacts of community composition on food web dynamics as regional species pools shift with climate change and anthropogenic introductions.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ecy.4320

    View details for Web of Science ID 001227429800001

    View details for PubMedID 38768562