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Rachael E. Blake

Quantitative Marine Ecologist

My research focuses on biodiversity, community structure, and the impacts of multiple stressors in marine ecosystems.  I also study how changes in these ecosystems influence social and ecological well-being.  I use data synthesis as well as field and lab experiments to test assumptions and hypotheses.   I'm interested in furthering open science and use data science tools to improve workflows and reproducibility.  



R / ingestr

An R package for reading environmental data from raw formats into dataframes.  Available for download on GitHub.  


Drivers of Spatial and Temporal Change

This project focused on human-induced ecosystem change, how biodiversity can buffer this change, and the impacts of these changes on social-ecological systems. The work was based in the Gulf of Alaska, which is exposed to dramatic oceanographic and climate changes, and stressors such as oil spills. I investigated oil spill impacts on groundfish, spatial patterns of groundfish diversity, and drivers of mussel abundance on rocky shores.


Acute Oil Spill Effects

Based in the Gulf of Mexico, this project investigated acute affects of oil spills in coastal ecosystems. More specifically, the goal was to understand how oil spill impacts can vary across a saltmarsh landscape. I studied the effects of oil on saltmarsh plant ecophysiology and growth. In addition, I researched how the impacts on plants can affect saltmarsh consumers.


Biodiversity and Multiple Stressors

Chesapeake Bay seagrass beds are highly biodiverse, but are increasingly subject to multiple stressors such as climate change and coastal development. In this project, I explored whether biodiversity can buffer ecosystem function against the impacts of multiple stressors in these habitats. I also examined the impacts of coastal development on seagrass community structure and function.   



Software Packages:
Shannon, J, R.E. Blake, T. Whiteaker.  ingestr: An R package for reading environmental data from raw formats into dataframes.

Marchand, P, I. Carroll, M. Smorul, R. E. Blake, Q. Read.  rslurm: submit R code to a Slurm cluster.  Artist: S. Cho.

Data Packages:

Blake, R.E., J.A. Olin.  2020. Code and data "Effects of multiple stressors were mixed in an experimental plant – herbivore system". Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity. doi:

Blake, R.E., C.L. Ward, M.E. Hunsicker, A.O. Shelton, A.B. Hollowed. 2019. Code and data for biodiversity, spatial community structure, and spatial community composition of groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska. doi:

Ward, Colette, R.E. Blake.  2017.  Gulf of Alaska Portfolio Effects: Groundfish Functional Diversity Traits. doi:

Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Turner, R., E. Brockerhoff, C. Bertelsmeier, R.E. Blake, B. Caton, A. James, A. MacLeod, H.F. Nahrung, S. Pawson, M. Plank, D.S. Pureswaran, H. Seebens, T. Yamanaka, A.M. Leibhold.  In Review.  Interceptions at world ports of entry provide a window into the composition of potentially invading insect species.  

Blake, R.E., J.A. Olin.  In Review. Effects of multiple stressors were mixed in an experimental plant-herbivore system.  

Blake, R.E., C.L. Ward, M.E. Hunsicker, A.O. Shelton, A.B. Hollowed. 2019. Spatial community structure of groundfish is conserved across the Gulf of Alaska. Marine Ecology Progress Series.  doi: 

Couture, J. L., R. E. Blake, G. McDonald, C. Ward. 2018. Funder imposed data publication requirements seldom inspire data sharing. PLOSOne.  doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0199789

Shelton, A. O., M. E. Hunsicker, E. J. Ward, B. E. Feist, R. E. Blake, C. L. Ward, B. Williams, J. T. Duffy-Anderson, A. B. Hollowed, A. C. Haynie. 2018. Spatio-temporal models reveal subtle changes to demersal communities following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. ICES Journal of Marine Science. doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsx079

Zador, S. G. , S. K. Gaichas, S. Kasperski, C. L. Ward, R. E. Blake, N.C. Ban, A. Himes-Cornell, Z. Koehn. 2017. Linking ecosystem processes to communities of practice through commercially fished species in the Gulf of Alaska. ICES Journal of Marine Science.
doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsx054

Blake, R.E., J.E. Duffy. 2016. Influence of environmental stressors and grazer immigration on ecosystem properties of an experimental eelgrass community. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology. 480: 45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2016.03.007

Blake, R.E., J.E. Duffy, J. Paul Richardson. 2014. Patterns of seagrass community response to local shoreline development. Estuaries & Coasts. 37: 1549-1561. doi: 10.1007/s12237-014-9784-7

Blake, R.E., J.E. Duffy. 2012. Changes in biodiversity and environmental stressors influence community structure of an experimental eelgrass (Zostera marina) system. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 470, 41-54. doi:  10.3354/meps10006 

Blake, R.E., J.E. Duffy. 2010. Grazer diversity affects resistance to multiple stressors in an experimental seagrass ecosystem. Oikos. 119, 1625-1635. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18419.x

Grosholz, E., R.E. Blake. 2010. The Effects of Grazing Geese on Hybrid and Native Spartina in San Francisco Bay. In: Ayres, D.R., D.W. Kerr, S.D. Ericson and P.R. Olofson, eds. 2010. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Invasive Spartina, 2004 Nov 8-10, San Francisco, CA, USA. San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Project of the California State Coastal Conservancy: Oakland, CA. 191-196.  

Neira, C., E. Grosholz, L. Levin, R.E. Blake. 2006. Mechanisms Generating Modification of Benthos Following Tidal Flat Invasion by a Spartina Hybrid. Ecological Applications. 16(4), 1391-1404. doi: 10.1890/1051-0761(2006)016[1391:MGMOBF]2.0.CO;2

Curriculum Vitae

Download my CV here


© Copyright 2020 Rachael E. Blake