Casey Benkwitt Dr., PhD.

Institution:
Lancaster University

Profile

My research examines how natural nutrients from seabirds influence coral reef ecology and resilience.

Seabirds feed in the open ocean and return to islands to nest, where their guano provides nutrients to islands and coastal systems. Our previous work has shown that these nutrient subsidies from seabirds can enhance coral-reef fish growth and ecosystem functioning, and alter benthic communities following coral bleaching events.
Working with other researchers, I am now investigating the spatial and trophic extent of seabird-derived nutrients in coral-reef food webs. I am also continuing to test whether seabird nutrients help coral reefs recover from climate disturbances. By linking our work to island management that aims to restore seabird populations, such as eradicating invasive rats and promoting native vegetation, I seek to understand the timescales and contexts under which these conservation strategies benefit coral reefs.

Ecosystems are intricately connected. The bad news is that humans are disrupting these links. But, I am optimistic because these connections also mean management actions can have cascading benefits across multiple ecosystems.

Casey Benkwitt

Biography

2021 Present
Senior Research Fellow at Lancaster University
2018 2021
Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University
2017 2018
Postdoctoral Researcher at California State University Northridge
2010 2016
PhD Student/NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Oregon State University
2008 2009
Fisheries Biologist at NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

My Project

  • Coral Reef Resilience
    Coral Reef Fish in the Indian Ocean Region

Other interests

I am broadly interested in the behavioural, population, and community ecology of reef fishes, with a focus on how human activities influence these processes.

My Publications