Robert Vadas

Robert Vadas

Professor of Botany, Oceanography and Zoology

Degree: Ph.D. 1968 University of Washington
Research Topic:
Marine and algal ecology; recruitment; plant-herbivore and predator-prey interactions


Research Program:

My interests span a wide range of intertidal and subtidal ecological questions. Students are encouraged to work in areas related to ongoing projects but flexibility is allowed in the selection of thesis projects. New students are encouraged to spend time in the field because many ecological problems can be addressed only with a solid understanding of natural history. Students are strongly encouraged to develop a strong inference approach to ecological questions. This often involves experimental manipulations based on sound experimental designs.My major foci at present are on recruitment and ecology of fucoid algae, especially Ascophyllum nodosum, and on the growth and reproductive ecology of green sea urchins. The alga is long-lived and the dominant intertidal alga throughout much of the North Atlantic ocean. Studies are directed towards understanding the mechanisms of attachment and the role of recruitment and dispersal on population regulation. Sea urchins are the second major marine resource in Maine. However, overharvesting created a boom and bust phenomenon, and understanding growth and reproductive processes may be crucial to recovery. Aspects of algal-herbivore interactions, including foraging behavior of invertebrates and their influence on the structure of intertidal assemblages, continue to be a component of my work. Behavioral studies on herbivores are an important but somewhat neglected aspect of community studies.