scuba diver underwater with eelgrass

Rosenberg Institute Seminar Series - Brent Hughes

Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Event Time 03:30 p.m. - 04:30 p.m. PT
Location BCC, Estuary and Ocean Science Center
Contact Email


Brent Hughes, Associate Professor, Sonoma State University

The restoration of California's imperiled vegetated marine ecosystems

I am a marine ecologist and conservation biologist from Sonoma State University, and a research affiliate at the EOS Center. Research in my lab seeks to determine the processes that affect the stability of coastal ecosystems. My research centers around coastal habitats—seagrass, salt marsh, and kelp (aka foundation species)—which provide valuable ecosystem services that we depend on, yet are threatened by human activities. Currently my research focuses on four themes: 1) the consequences of predator recovery on the functioning and stability of ecosystems, 2) the relative influence of climatic change and anthropogenic threats of coastal ecosystems, 3) the role of habitat-forming species in structuring nearshore diversity and functioning in turn the drivers maintaining foundation species stability, and 4) informing management and restoration on the processes that drive ecosystem resilience. I received a B.A. in Biology from Truman State University, a M.S. in Marine Sciences from Moss Landing Marine Labs/CSU East Bay, and a Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz. Prior to arriving at Sonoma State I was a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at Duke University, and the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Lab Postdoctoral Fellow.  


Over the last few decades widespread documentation of the decline of coastal ecosystems has been increasing, leaving scientists and managers scrambling to find solutions. California’s marine ecosystems, such as kelp forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes are not an exception; and there is a need to further our scientific understanding of the ecological processes leading to the protection and restoration of these critical habitats. In this talk, I will give an overview of some of the restoration research we have done at Sonoma State and with our colleagues across California. I will talk about the stressors leading to coastal ecosystem collapse, and some of the innovative strategies that have been developed to protect and restore imperiled ecosystems, and what the future holds for some of our iconic marine ecosystems.