Silbiger Lab @ CSUN
Quantitative Marine Ecology

Meet the Team

Nyssa J. Silbiger, PhD
Principal Investigator
In my research program, I use a diverse set of laboratory, field, and quantitative techniques to understand the impact of climate stressors on organisms, communities, and ecosystem processes in the context of natural variability. The main foci of my research are: 1) assessing the impacts of anthropogenic stressors (temperature, ocean acidification [OA], and eutrophication) on organismal to ecosystem processes, 2) quantifying how interactions between climate stressors and natural variability drive communities interactions and ecosystems processes across multiple spatial scales, and 3) characterizing feedbacks between global climate change stressors and ecosystem functioning. To date, I have worked mostly in coastal ecosystems including coral reefs and temperate rocky shores. Examples of a few ongoing research projects include: investigating drivers of coral reef accretion and bioerosion processes using natural gradients and manipulative lab experiments, assessing the role of temperate seaweeds as “ecological buffers” for ocean acidification along the US West Coast, and the scaling of individual to ecosystem responses to nutrient stress on Hawaiian coral reefs.   

My first research experiences were as an undergraduate student at Florida State University in the Department of Biological Sciences. At FSU, I studied the symbiotic relationship between cleaner shrimp and sea anemones with Dr. Michael Childress  and examined the physiological response of intertidal fiddler crabs to changes in temperature with Dr. Pablo Munguia . As a Master’s student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Marine Science Department , I continued my scientific training and assessed the ability of a prolific tropical alga to utilize nutrients from marine sponges in the Caribbean. During my Ph.D. at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa / Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology  in the Donahue Lab  I characterized drivers of accretion and erosion on coral reefs and examined how these processes are modulated by climate change in the context of both natural variability and simulated future conditions. I was also a Dr. NOAA Nancy Foster Scholar As a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at Irvine in the Sorte Lab  in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology , I focused on the ability of macrophytes to control local pH conditions.  I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at California State University, Northridge.

Click here for a complete list of publications

Click here to download my C.V.

M.S Students

Jennifer Fields (2018)
Jenn is interested in using chemical, ecological, and quantitative research techniques to assess how global climate change impacts coastal marine community structure.  Her research interest stems from her undergraduate work at Pitzer College, where she graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Environmental Analysis. While at Pitzer, she conducted research projects on the effects of temperature stress and ocean acidification on marine invertebrate behavior within the laboratory setting. After college, she explored different facets of the environmental field through fishery science-related AmeriCorps positions and an environmental educator position with NatureBridge in Yosemite. These transformative years gave her a new, diverse perspective on ecosystem interactions within the human-impacted environment. At CSUN, she aims to study the impact of the ecological buffering capacity of intertidal macrophytes on species interaction using the intertidal zone as a natural laboratory. Using an interdisciplinary research approach, she aspire to understand the importance of macrophyte-dominated coastal ecosystems with current and future climate change conditions.

Email: [email protected]
Danielle Becker (2018)
Danielle is interested in the ecophysiology within coral reef ecosystems and how anthropogenic stressors, global climate change and thermal disturbances may influence reef resilience and coral population dynamics for future generations to come. During her time as an undergraduate at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida, she was exposed to various facets within the Marine Science field. Her initial interest for coral reef science brought her to the Seychelles to participate in a Coral Reef Restoration Training Program run by Nature Seychelles where she underwent extensive hands-on training in coral restoration and conservation techniques. During her senior year, she decided to create an independent study project that investigated the relationship between dolphin whistle morphology (e.g., peak frequency, duration) and ambient noise (mainly from boat noise) in order to determine how dolphins, change these communication signals to compensate for high ambient noise levels. Yet, after graduation her passion for coral reef ecosystems brought her to the Bermuda Institute of Sciences through the help of the Galbraith/Wardman Fellowship. Her first summer she began investigating the reproductive ecology and acclimatization potential of corals from shallow to mesophotic zones. After making a strong relationship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, she has returned the past two summers to continue working on various projects involving coral reproductive ecology and degrees of variation in thermal tolerance and calcification/dissolution responses in coral species. She understands the importance of bridging the gap between education, conservation and research to convey the importance of coral reef ecosystems to the masses. At CSUN, she hopes to continue her passion for the ocean through diving, field work and research methods that can further contribute to a deeper understanding of ways to combat degradation of these valuable ecosystems.

Email: [email protected]

Technicians

Danielle Barnas (2018) 
Danielle’s focus is on marine ecological shifts in response to climate change and restoration techniques of coral reef ecosystems.  She found her passion for reef and coastal ecology through an abroad program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where she studied benthic composition and population dynamics of coral reefs.  After receiving her B.A. in Marine Science from the University of San Diego, she spent three years in the Florida Keys working with local environmental organizations (i.e. Coral Restoration Foundation, Mote Marine Laboratory, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) to monitor and restore threatened or damaged reefs, as well as study effects of climate change on those ecosystems.  Her enthusiasm for understanding these effects on corals led her to CSUN, where she assists ongoing and newly developed research endeavors in the lab and field.  With a rising need for understanding and communicating the impacts we all have on our oceans and environment, she is excited to lend herself to the challenge and actively work toward solutions.

Email: [email protected]

Undergraduate Students

Julio Rosales (2018)
Julio is an undergraduate working on his B.S. of Ecology & Evolution at CSUN. He is currently working on comparing different sampling techniques to measure volume in tidepools to see which is most accurate, efficient, and best balances time and energy input. In doing so, he hopes to clarify which method is best used in certain scenarios to maximize efforts in data collection for future field studies. Some past projects include comparing rocky intertidal zonation patterns between sites, observation of fauna between groomed and non-groomed beaches, and the effects of human trampling on rocky intertidal ecosystems. His current academic goals are to attend graduate school, as well as expand his knowledge in marine and coastal ecology. 

Email: [email protected]
Jose Mata-Lopez (2018)
Jose is working on his B.S in Biology at CSUN. He has been working really hard on processing total alkalinity samples to understand how temperature affects calcification rates on coral reefs. His current goal is to attend medical school after he finishes he degree here at CSUN.