Robert J. Feller
Professor of Marine Science and Biological Sciences;
Biological Oceanography; Energetics of Predator-Prey Interactions; Marine Food Webs; Benthic Ecology; Long-Term Studies; Immunoassays
Marine communities are organized by both physical and biotic forces. The relative influence of each as a structuring mechanism varies among habitats, e.g., storms and cold weather may have significant impacts on shallow, soft-bottom benthic communities whereas predation and competition may be more important in deeper waters. A major challenge in benthic ecology is to measure the effects of these forces. Our emphasis is on the identification and quantification of predator-prey linkages, especially those involving epibenthic shrimp, crabs, and juvenile fishes and their invertebrate prey, both macrobenthic and meiobenthic.
We utilize several methodological approaches (field cages, time-series collections from natural populations, laboratory feeding studies, and various traps) to obtain quantitative samples. Immunoassays using polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to identify prey have been useful for probing otherwise obscure or invisible feeding linkages. For estimating daily rations, fluorescent tracers have been used to measure gut passage times.
Recent studies have examined selective digestion of nematodes by and daily rations of bottom-feeding fishes, ingestion of larval flatfishes by shrimp, sublethal predation on brittlestars in subtidal and deep-sea habitats, effects of food quality and body size on feeding of penaeid shrimps, ingestion rates of grass shrimp on harpacticoid copepods, and detection of larval cod in their putative predators. A long-term collection (biweekly since 1981) of subtidal macrobenthos in North Inlet, SC, provides a continuous source of testable hypotheses for understanding year-to-year changes in abundance of this dynamic community.
Dr. Feller teaches oceanography courses at the introductory level for both marine science majors and non-science majors, as well as upper-level classes in biological oceanography and benthic ecology. He has also devleoped and interest in marine science education as a research area.
Allen, D.M., D. Edwards, R.J. Feller, S.E. Hutchinson, and V. Ogburn-Matthews. 1996. Detection and analysis of unusual events in long-term zooplankton and nekton data sets from North Inlet Estuary, South Carolina, USA. Oceanologica Acta (in press).
Feller, R.J., and D.M. Karl. 1996. The National Association of Marine Laboratories, a connected web for studying long-term changes in U.S. coastal and marine waters. Biological Bulletin 190:269-277.
Feller, R.J., and B.C. Coull. 1995. Non-selective ingestion of meiobenthos by juvenile spot (Leiostomus xanthurus) (Pisces) and their daily ration. Vie et Milieu 45:49-59.
Feller, R.J. 1991. Dietary analysis of penaeid shrimp: the immunoassay approach. pp. 141-156, in Frontiers of Shrimp Research, P. DeLoach, W.J. Dougherty, and M.A. Davidson, eds., Elsevier Sci. Publ.