Our Mission: The Marine Ecology Lab under Dr. Ken Heck employs a team approach to problem solving, emphasizing field experimentation as the primary means of attacking ecological problems. Our goal is to understand how physio-chemical and biological factors such as competition and predation influence the structure and function of nearshore marine ecosystems. While our emphasis is on population and community ecology, we also work at the interface of community and ecosystems ecology. We do both basic and applied research, and our efforts range from investigating the role of larval abundance as it influences the adult population size of blue crabs, to evaluating the cascading trophic effects of overharvesting fish predators from coastal systems. While most of our efforts are focused on studying the plants and animals inhabiting seagrass meadows and on the interactions between seagrass meadows and adjacent habitats (coral reefs, marsh, mangroves), we can also be found working in coral and oyster reef habitats.