Image of Dr. Stancyk

Stephen E. Stancyk

Professor of Marine Science and Biological Sciences;

Ph.D., 1974, University of Florida

Room 712 Earth and Water Sciences Building - Research Laboratory
(803) 777-3944

Dr. Stancyk's e-mail address is


Reproductive Ecology of Marine Invertebrates

     Dr. Stancyk's interest lies in the biology and ecology of marine invertebrates, with an emphasis on reproductive ecology and echinoderms.  Investigations of the adaptiveness of invertebrate life history patterns, tolerances of invertebrate larvae, and larval movements in estuaries have been carried out.  Current research is being conducted on ophiuroids, including a burrowing brittlestar which loses its disc (including gut and gonads) and arms to predators, then regenerates.  Studies are being conducted to clarify sources of nutrition and the effect of tissue loss on the life history of the animals.  Brittlestars are potentially excellent models for studies of the effects of anthropogenic pollutants on infaunal or epifaunal marine organisms.  Research is being carried out to determine the effect of sediment bound pollutants on regeneration, the role of burrowing activities on release of pollutants from sediment, and the effect of pollutants on the feeding behavior of brittlestars.  Additional recent research has dealt with comparative studies of aging and regeneration in continental slope ophiuroids using a manned submersible.

Image of Brittlestars
Image Courtesy of Richard B. Aronson
Current Students:

Michel at the marine lab Michel Gielazyn M.S. 1997. Ph.D. 2001

DNA damage in marine invertebrates exposed to natural and anthropogenic stressors.

Contaminants are introduced into marine environments via rivers, land runoff, direct application, or from the atmosphere. Exposure to these pollutants coupled with natural stressors can result in decreased growth, fecundity, and/or survivorship for exposed organisms. Biomarkers can be used to identify cellular level effects of stress, which range from depletion of compounds that protect the cell, such as glutathione, to direct damage of DNA. The primary focus of my current research is examining DNA damage in invertebrates as a result of exposure to both natural and anthropogenic stressors. I am using single cell gel electrophoresis, or the comet assay, to detect DNA damage in different tissues. Currently, I am primarily working on the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, from Charleston Harbor, but I am also collecting the brittlestar, Amphipholis gracillima, from North Inlet and adapting the comet assay for use with tissues from this organism. Our future research will be concerned with assessing the practicality of using of the comet assay, in combination with other biomarkers, in marine habitats for environmental monitoring.

Mary Jo HartmanMary Jo Hartman Ph.D. 2001

Distribution of an invasive anomuran decapod, Petrolisthes armatus, along the South Carolina coast.

Rosemary at the marine lab Rosemary Hall M.S. 2002

Effects of zinc on rates and developmental patterns of arm regeneration in the brittlestars Amphipholis gracillima and Ophiothrix angulata

Zinc is released into the environment by mining and industrial processes in concentrations that often exceed background levels by several orders of magnitude. When released into marine ecosystems, it binds to sediment and organic particles, and is accumulated by organisms from many phyla. Zinc is also a key element in the nervous system of many organisms, yet excess concentrations can cause severe damage or even death. Given the role of the nervous system in guiding regeneration in echinoderms, high concentrations of zinc in seawater may have negative sublethal effects evident in regenerating tissue.

I am testing the effects of zinc on ophiuroid regeneration by inducing autotomy and exposing brittlestars to varying concentrations of zinc. Effects on protein synthesis will be tested immunocytochemically by labeling regions of cell proliferation with bromodeoxyuridine. I will evaluate effects at the tissue level by measuring rate of regeneration, nerve extension, and tissue formation in arms of exposed animals.

Rosemary's Curriculum vitae:

Selected Publications:

D'Andrea, A.F., S. Stancyk and G.T. Chandler. 1996. Sublethal effects of cadmium on arm regeneration in the burrowing brittlestar, Microphiopholis gracillima. Ecotoxicology 5: 115-133.

Golde, H.M., M.P. Crosby, C.R. Lovell and S.E. Stancyk. 1994. Reduction of marine sediment oxygen uptake: Pretreatment for the determination of infaunal respiration rates (Note). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 111:203-207.

Stancyk, S.E., H.M. Golde, P. Pape Lindstrom and W.E. Dobson. 1994. Born to lose: I. Measures of sublethal loss and regeneration by the brittlestar, Microphiopholis gracillima (Stimpson) (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) in the field and laboratory. Marine Biology 118(3):451-462.

Clements, L.A.J, S.E. Stancyk, D.E. Lincoln, W.E. Dobson and R.M. Showman. 1993. Uptake of free amino acids by the ophiuroid Microphiopholis gracillima (Stimpson) (Echinodermata) during disc regeneration. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 105A (4):793 802.

Feller, R.J., S.E. Stancyk, B.C. Coull and D.G. Edwards. 1992. Recruitment of polychaetes and bivalves: long term assessment of predictability in a soft bottom habitat. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 87:227 238.

Fielman, K.T, S.E. Stancyk, W.E. Dobson, and L.A. Clements. 1991. Effects of disc and arm loss on regeneration by Microphiopholis gracillima (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) in nutrient free seawater. Marine Biology 111:121 127.

Dobson, W.E., S.E. Stancyk, L.A. Clements, R.M. Showman. 1991. Nutrient translocation during early disc regeneration in the brittlestar Microphiopholis gracillima (Stimpson) (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea). Biol. Bull. 180: 167 184.

Johnson, W.S., D.M. Allen, M.V. Ogburn and S.E. Stancyk. 1990. Short term predation responses of adult bay anchovies, Anchoa mitchilli, to estuarine zooplankton availability. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 64: 55 68.