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Rachael E. Blake

Quantitative Marine Ecologist

I study the diversity and structure of ecosystems, the impacts of multiple stressors on ecosystem functions, and how these impacts influence social and ecological well-being.  My work has taken me from the Gulf of Maine, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the Gulf of Alaska.  



Biodiversity and Multiple Stressors

Coastal ecosystems are increasingly subject to climate change and coastal development.  Seagrass beds, one such ecosystem, also are highly biodiverse.  We explored whether diversity could buffer ecosystem function against the impacts of multiple stressors. 


Acute Oil Spill Effects

Oil spills have detrimental acute effects in coastal ecosystems.  We investigated how these effects can vary across a saltmarsh landscape.  We also studied the effects of the oil spill on saltmarsh plant ecophysiology and growth.  Finally, we examined how the impacts on plants can affect saltmarsh consumers.  


Drivers of Spatial and Temporal Change

The Gulf of Alaska is a large marine ecosystem exposed to dramatic oceanographic and climate changes, as well as stressors such as oil spills.  We studied what drives spatial patterns of groundfish diversity.  We also investigated drivers of mussel abundance, and important rocky shore species.  


Blake, R.E., C.L. Ward, M.E. Hunsicker, A.O. Shelton, A.B. Hollowed. In Review. Spatial community structure of groundfish is conserved across the Gulf of Alaska. Ecology.

Couture, J. L., R. E. Blake, G. McDonald, C. Ward. In Review. Funder imposed data publication requirements seldom inspire data sharing. PLOSOne.

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. 2017. 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 fsx054. 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.

Blake, R.E., J.E. Duffy, J. Paul Richardson. 2014. Patterns of seagrass community response to local shoreline development. Estuaries & Coasts. 37: 1549-1561. 

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.

Blake, R.E., J.E. Duffy. 2010. Grazer diversity affects resistance to multiple stressors in an experimental seagrass ecosystem. Oikos. 119, 1625-1635.

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.


Download my CV here

2012     Ph.D.     Marine Science                  College of William & Mary         Gloucester Point, VA
2001     B.A.       Environmental Studies    Oberlin College                            Oberlin, OH

Professional Positions
2017 – present     Data Analyst & Consultant                          
            University of Washington, Seattle, WA 
            Analysis of ecological data from the Gulf of Alaska
2017                       Outreach and Training Coordinator            
            National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA
            Created training and outreach opportunities for NSF Arctic Data Center
2015 – 2017          Post-doctoral Associate                                
            University of Californa Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
            Synthesis of long-term ecological data from the Gulf of Alaska
2012 – 2015         Post-doctoral Researcher
            Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
            Conducting research examining effects of multiple stressors in saltmarshes

Certifications & Skills
Advanced R programming
Basic Python and command lin programming
Basic GIS analysis
Git/GitHub user
2012 – 2015 Certified Boat Operator Louisiana State University
2007 – 2012 Certified Boat Operator Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Funding, Fellowships, & Awards
2018 Feb.                         Early Career Travel Grant for Ocean Sciences Meeting             Portland OR
2013                                  Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative RFP IV: Coastal Waters Consortium 
                                           $201,071 sub-budget for “Saltmarsh Plant Diversity and Ecosystem                                            Functioning in the Face of Multiple Stressors”.
2008 – 2010                    National Estuarine Research Reserve Graduate Research Fellowship
2004 – 2007 & 2011      Graduate Assistantship Virginia Institute of Marine Science
2000 – 2001                    Leopold Schepp Foundation Scholarship Oberlin College
1997 – 2001                     Work Study Grant Oberlin College

Teaching & Mentoring Experience
2013 Spring             Co-Instructor, Saltmarsh Ecosystems (OCS 8900) LSU
2011 Fall                    Teaching Assistant, Fundamentals of Marine Science (MSCI 501) VIMS
2011 Summer           Teaching Assistant, Research Experience for Undergraduates Program VIMS

Professional Service
2016 – 2017                               Co-organizer Write-On-Site writing group and writing retreat
2016                                            Organizer, NCEAS Roundtable Talks
2014 February                          Presentation Judge, Graduate Student Symposium, LUMCON
2006 Aug – 2009 March        Program Co-Chair, Atlantic Estuarine Research Society
2005 April                                  Benthic Ecology Meeting Organizing Committee 

Manuscript reviewer for: Estuaries and Coasts, Ecological Engineering, Diversity & Dynamics, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Nature Scientific Reports, Zoology & Ecology


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