Dr Casey Benkwitt

Lancaster University

Email: c.benkwitt@lancaster.ac.uk

Casey has been a postdoc with the REEFS group since March 2018. She earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Sociology from Bowdoin College (USA) and her PhD in Zoology from Oregon State University (USA). Casey has also worked as a fisheries biologist for NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and as a postdoc with the Fish Ecology Lab at California State University, Northridge. Through these positions, Casey has conducted research in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans in a variety of marine systems, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and kelp forests.

Research Interests

Casey is broadly interested in the behavioural, population, and community ecology of reef fishes, with a focus on how human activities influence these processes. Examples of previous research projects include investigating the effects of an invasive marine predator on native coral-reef fishes and the effects of different fishing regimes on sex-changing fishes in kelp forests. Casey’s current research focuses on how nutrient subsidies from seabirds nesting on islands influence adjacent coral reefs. Specifically, she is testing whether the presence of seabirds boosts the resistance and/or recovery of coral-reef communities following mass coral bleaching events. She is also investigating how management actions to remove invasive rats and restore seabird populations affect coral reefs.

Other Profiles

Selected Publications

  • Benkwitt CE, Wilson SK, Graham NAJ (2020) Biodiversity increases ecosystem functions despite multiple stressors on coral reefs. Nature Ecology and Evolution 4: 919-926
  • Taylor BM, Benwitt CE, Choat H, Clements KD, Graham NAJ, Meekan MG (2019) Synchronous biological feedbacks in parrotfishes associated with pantropical coral bleaching. Global Change Biology
  • Benkwitt CE, Wilson SK, Graham NAJ (2019) Seabird nutrient subsidies alter patterns of algal abundance and fish biomass on coral reefs following a bleaching event. Global Change Biology 25: 2619-2632
  • Benkwitt CE (2017) Predator effects on reef fish settlement depend on predator origin and recruit density. Ecology 98: 896-902
  • Benkwitt CE (2016) Central-place foraging and ecological effects of an invasive predator across multiple habitats. Ecology 97: 2729-2739
  • Benkwitt CE (2015) Non-linear effects of invasive lionfish on native coral-reef fish communities. Biological Invasions 17: 1383-1395