Katharyn Boyer


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Interim Director and Professor of Biology
Wetlands Ecology, Community and Restoration Ecology
(415) 338-3751


Research Interests: I am broadly interested in the restoration and conservation of coastal habitats, working primarily in salt marshes and seagrass beds. My research focuses on how species interact with and structure their environments and influence fundamental ecosystem processes. I use such basic ecological research to inform the restoration of damaged habitats. I earned a BS in Zoology at the University of Maryland, College Park, an MS in Biology at San Diego State, and a PhD in Biology at UCLA. I completed postdoctoral work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before beginning my faculty position at San Francisco State in 2004. In my lab at the EOS Center, we work mainly with vascular plants, macroalgae, and invertebrates as well as the water and sediments on and in which they live. Our work is mostly experimental, conducted in field, greenhouse, and outdoor mesocosm (tank or pot) settings. In the San Francisco Estuary, our research on eelgrass (Zostera marina) includes experimental evaluation of restoration techniques, long-term monitoring of eelgrass beds, and experiments to test abiotic and biotic influences. I am actively involved in multiple working groups to advance the science of restoration in an era of changing climate, with a focus on protecting shorelines, increasing carbon sequestration, and reducing ocean acidification. I am the lead scientist on several living shorelines projects, which restore habitats such as eelgrass and native oysters while evaluating their roles in shore protection. I recently contributed to Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge and am co-project lead on a multi-year effort to restore eelgrass and assess the habitat for spawning herring following the Cosco Busan oil spill. In addition, my students and I have current projects evaluating factors that influence spread of invasive species and the conservation and restoration of rare species, including an endangered plant (Suaeda californica) that may promote high tide refuge and shoreline resiliency with sea level rise. I regularly teach courses in restoration ecology, wetlands ecology, and ecology of marine ecosystems. I am a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and have recently been awarded the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation William A. Niering Outstanding Educator Award and the San Francisco State University Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Recent and Other Selected Publications (** = grad student, *** = undergrad student)

Gross, C., J. Duffy, K. Hovel, M. Kardish, P. Reynolds, C. Boström, K. Boyer, et al. 2022. The biogeography of community assembly: latitude and predation drive variation in community trait distribution in a guild of epifaunal crustaceans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289: 20211762; doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.1762  

Zabin, C. J., L. J. Jurgens, J. M. Bible, M. V. Patten, A. L. Chang, E. D. Grosholz, and K. E. Boyer. 2022. Increasing the resilience of ecological restoration to extreme climatic events. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment doi:10.1002/fee.2471

Beheshti**, K. M., S. L. Williams, K. E. Boyer, C. Endris, A. Clemons, T. Grimes, K. Wasson, B. B. Hughes. 2021. Small scale restoration with large scale impact: seagrass restoration success fosters recovery of key ecosystem services. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 103(1):e01945.

Beheshti**, K. M., S. L. Williams, K. E. Boyer, C. Endris, A. Clemons, T. Grimes, K. Wasson, B. B. Hughes. 2021. Rapid restoration of multiple ecosystem services associated with a coastal foundation species. Ecological Applications 32(1), 2022, e02466.

Schneider**, R. S. and K. E. Boyer. 2021. Limiting life history stages in the endangered wetland plant, Cirsium hydrophilum var. hydrophilum (Asteraceae). Madroño 68:39–51.

Pinnell**, C. M., M. V. Patten, G. S. Ayala**, and K. E. Boyer. 2021. Seagrass and oyster reef restoration in living shorelines: Effects of habitat configuration on invertebrate community assembly. Diversity 13(6), 246; doi.org/10.3390/d13060246

Burdick, D. M., G. E. Moore, and K. E. Boyer. 2021. Impacts of exotic and native species invading tidal marshes. Chapter 14 in Salt Marshes, Z. Hughes and D. Fitzgerald, eds., Cambridge University Press.

Cloern, J. E., S. Safran, L. S. Vaughn, A. Robinson, A. A. Whipple, K. E. Boyer, J. Z. Drexler, R. J. Naiman, J. L. Pinckney, E. R. Howe, E. A. Canuel, and J. L. Grenier.  2021. On the human appropriation of wetland primary production. Science of the Total Environment. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147097

Hovel, K. A., J. E. Duffy, J. J. Stachowicz, P. Reynolds, C. Boström, K. E. Boyer, M. Cusson, F. J. Fodrie, K. Gagnon, C. M. Hereu, M. Hori, P. Jorgensen, C. Kruschel, K. Lee, M. Nakaoka, N. E. O’Connor, F. Rossi, J. Ruesink, F. Tomas, and S. Ziegler. 2021. Joint effects of patch edges and habitat degradation on faunal predation risk in a widespread marine foundation species. Ecology 102(5), e03316.

Hernán, G., M. J. Ortega, J. Henderson, J. Alos, K. Boyer, S. Cimon, V. Combes, M. Cusson, C. M. Hereu, M. Hessing-Lewis, K. Hovel, P. Jorgensen, S. Kiriakopolos, N. Kollars, M. I. O´Connor, J. Olsen, P. L. Reynolds, J. Ruesink, E. Voigt and F. Tomas. 2021. Latitudinal variation in plant defense against herbivory in a marine foundation species does not follow a linear pattern: the importance of resource availability. Global Ecology and Biogeography 30:220-234.

Hansen***, M. L., K. Crow, M. V. Buchbinder, and K. E. Boyer. 2020. Invasive mangroves produce unsuitable habitat for endemic goby and burrowing shrimp pairs in Kāne'ohe Bay, Oahu, Hawai'i. Ciencias Marinas 46(4). doi.org/10.7773/cm.v46i4.3185

Grimes**, T. M., M. T. Tinker, B. B. Hughes, K. E. Boyer, L. Needles, K. Beheshti**, and R. L. Lewison. 2020. Characterizing the impact of recovering sea otters on commercially important crab in California estuaries. Marine Ecology Progress Series 655:123–137.

Rudebusch**, J., B. Hughes, K. E. Boyer, and E. Hines. 2020. Assessing anthropogenic risk to sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) for reintroduction into San Francisco Bay. PeerJ 8:e10241.

Parker, V. T and K. E. Boyer. 2019. Sea-level rise and climate change impacts on an urbanized Pacific Coast Estuary. Wetlands. doi.org/10.1007/s13157-017-0980-7

Hughes, B. B., K. Wasson, T. Tinker, S. L. Williams, L. P. Carswell, K. E. Boyer, M. W. Beck, R. Eby, R. Scoles, M. Staedler, S. Espinosa, M. Hessing-Lewis, E. U. Rechsteiner, K. Beheshti, T. M. Grimes, B. H. Becker, L. Needles, J. A. Tomoleoni, J. Rudebusch, E. Hines, and B. R. Silliman. 2019. Species recovery and recolonization of past habitats: lessons for science and conservation from sea otters in estuaries. PeerJ 7:e8100.

Harrison, C. D., et al. (76 authors, including K. E. Boyer). 2019. Investigating instructor talk in novel contexts: widespread use, unexpected categories, and an emergent sampling strategy. CBE: Life Sciences Education 18:ar47.

Wittyngham**, S. S., J. Moderan, and K. E. Boyer. 2019. Temperature and salinity effects on submerged aquatic vegetation traits and susceptibility to grazing. Aquatic Botany 158:103119.

Rohr, M. E. et al. (36 authors, including K. E. Boyer). 2018. Blue carbon storage capacity of temperate eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 32:1457-1475.

Owens, M. et al., including K. E. Boyer. 2018. Collectively improving our teaching: Attempting biology department-wide professional development in scientific teaching. CBE: Life Sciences Education 17(2):1-17. DOI 10.1187/cbe.17-06-0106 

Reynolds, P. L, J. J. Stachowicz, K. Hovel, C. Boström, K. E. Boyer, M. Cusson, J. S. Eklöf, F. G. Engel, A. H. Engelen, B. K. Eriksson, J. Fodrie, J. N. Griffin, C. Hereu, M. Hori, T. Hanley, M. Ivanov, P. Jorgensen, C. Kruschel, K.-S. Lee, K. McGlathery, P. O. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, F. T. Nash, M. I. O'Connor, N. O'Connor, R. J. Orth, F. Rossi, J. Ruesink, E. Sotka, R. K. F. Unsworth, M. A. Whalen, J. E. Duffy. In press. Latitude, temperature and habitat complexity predict predation pressure in eelgrass across the Northern Hemisphere. Ecology.

J. L. Murphy**, K. E. Boyer, and E. C. Carpenter. 2017. Restoration of cordgrass salt marshes: limited effects of organic matter additions on nitrogen fixation. Wetlands. doi.org/10.1007/s13157-017-0973-6

Kollars, N. M., A. K. Henry, M. A. Whalen, K. E. Boyer, M. Cusson, J. S Eklöf, C. Hereu, P. Jorgensen, S. Kiriakopolos, P. L. Reynolds, F. Tomas, M. S. Turner, and J. L. Ruesink. 2017. Meta-analysis of reciprocal linkages between temperate seagrasses and waterfowl with implications for conservation. Frontiers in Plant Science. doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.02119

Parker, V. T and K. E. Boyer. 2017. Sea-level rise and climate change impacts on an urbanized Pacific Coast Estuary. Wetlands. doi.org/10.1007/s13157-017-0980-7

Boyer, K., C. Zabin, S. De La Cruz, E. Grosholz, M. Orr, J. Lowe, M. Latta, J. Miller, S. Kiriakopolos, C. Pinnell**, D. Kunz, J. Moderan, K. Stockmann**, G. Ayala, R. Abbott, and R. Obernolte. 2017. San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines: Restoring Eelgrass and Olympia Oysters for Habitat and Shore Protection. Chapter 17 in D. M. Bilkovic, M. Mitchell, J. Toft, and M. La Peyre, eds., Living Shorelines: The Science and Management of Nature-Based Coastal Protection. CRC Press Marine Science Series.

Borgnis**, E. and K. E. Boyer. 2015. Salinity tolerance and competition drive distributions of native and invasive submerged aquatic vegetation in the upper San Francisco Estuary. Estuaries and Coasts 39:707-717.

Lewis**, J. T. and K. E. Boyer. 2014. Grazer functional roles, induced defenses, and indirect interactions: Implications for eelgrass restoration in San Francisco Bay. Diversity 6:751-770.

Archbald**, G. and K. E. Boyer. 2014. Potential for spread of Algerian sea lavender (Limonium ramosissimum sbsp. provinciale) in tidal marshes. Invasive Plant Science and Management 7:454-463.

Carr**, L. A. and K. E. Boyer. 2014. Variation at multiple trophic levels mediates a novel seagrass-grazer interaction. Marine Ecology Progress Series 508:117–128.

Ort, B. S., C. S. Cohen, K. E. Boyer, L. K. Reynolds, S. M. Tam and S. Wyllie-Echeverria. 2014. Conservation of eelgrass (Zostera marina) genetic diversity in a mesocosm-based restoration experiment. PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089316