Joshua Lord

Postdoctoral Fellow

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

7700 Sandholdt Road

Moss Landing, CA 95039

Phone: (831) 775-1768

email: jlord@mbari.org

Curriculum Vitae

Google Scholar Profile

Publications (full text)


PhD Oceanography, University of Connecticut, 2014

MSc Marine Biology, University of Oregon, 2010

BSc Biology, Colby College, 2008

Research Interests

Marine Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology and Physiology, Impact of Climate Change on Marine Communities, Spread and Ecological Impact of Invasive Species, Deep Sea Biology


My PhD research focused primarily on the response of fouling organisms (grow on boats, docks, aquaculture equipment) and oysters to changes in seawater temperature. After finishing my PhD I taught marine biology courses and conducted research with students as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bates College. There, I worked with students to quantify the spread of invasive crabs in the Gulf of Maine and test their impact on juvenile lobsters by measuring aggressive interactions. I started my postdoctoral fellowship at MBARI in fall 2015, working on community responses to ocean acidification and increased seawater temperatures. In fall 2017 I will begin a position as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Moravian College, a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, where I will teach and continue to pursue my marine ecology research.

Research Description

Most of my research focuses on the impact that climate change and invasive species have on community-level interactions like predation and competition. Species interactions like these produce many of the large-scale patterns that we observe in the natural world, but few experiments examine effects of environmental variables at the community level. I particularly target impacts of global warming and ocean acidification, which can interfere with crab feeding, snail shell production, and alter predator-prey relationships. I work with a wide range of species, from fouling communities that grow on boats and docks to intertidal assemblages and deep sea corals and sponges. The overall goal is to be able to develop a higher-level understanding of the way that environmental variables impact ecosystem functioning, giving us greater predictive power that can aid in management and mitigation.

  1. Community Responses to Warming and Ocean Acidification

The goal of this project is to assess how changing environmental conditions will shift the direction and/or strength of predator-prey interactions in intertidal communities. The primary predators used in these experiments have been crabs, particularly the native shore crab Pachygrapsus crassipes and the invasive green crab Carcinus maenas. We have tested responses of prey including abalone (Haliotis rufescens) and several species of predatory snails in a 64-tank array in the seawater lab at MBARI. We use a pH offset system (developed by MBARI engineers Dale Graves and Chad Kecy) to maintain a pH 0.3 units below the ambient local seawater conditions, using CO2 to control the pH in the tanks. These experiments have allowed us to show that shore crabs are far more vulnerable to high CO2 than green crabs, and that abalone are vulnerable to high CO2 while snails have a minimal response. Several species of snails display a massive behavioral avoidance of the crabs, which results in reductions in feeding and growth, so any decline in crab populations would likely lead to increases in snail ecological impacts. We are collaborating on this project with Dr. Elizabeth Harper at Cambridge University to test how the changing environmental conditions affect snail shell microstructure.


– Lord JP, Barry JP (2017) Juvenile mussel and abalone predation by the lined shore crab Pachygrapsus crassipes. Journal of Shellfish Research 36: (accepted, in press)

– Lord JP, Barry JP, Graves D. Community-level responses to warming and ocean acidification. (in review in Marine Ecology Progress Series)

– Lord JP, Barry JP, Harper EM. Effect of climate change on inducible defense and trait-mediated indirect interactions. (in prep for Global Change Biology)

  1. Effect of Temperature on Global Fouling Communities

Fouling communities which grow on boats, docks, and aquaculture equipment are dominated by invasive species in many parts of the world, with many of the same species playing large roles on several continents. To determine the role that temperature plays in controlling fouling community composition and to quantify inter-annual variability in community structure, I developed a citizen science program to monitor fouling communities. This program is called iBARGE (Invasive Bryozoan and Ascidian Recruitment and Growth Experiment) and involves high school students and teachers from 20 schools in 5 countries. Students deploy the equipment (a set of PVC panels hanging from a rope) at local marinas and take weekly photographs of the panels, scraping one panel clear each week. They upload photos online, and I am able to quantify growth rates and competition between species at a wide range of sites and environmental conditions. In addition, many students take an interest and analyze some of the data themselves; two are presenting at the Los Angeles County Science Fair this year. Largely because of the data gathered in this project, I am also a member of the CA State Lands Commission Biofouling Technical Advisory Group, which will provide input on future regulations. Check out the iBARGE website at: www.ibargeprogram.wordpress.com


– Lord JP (2017) Impact of seawater temperature on growth and recruitment of invasive fouling species at the global scale. Marine Ecology (accepted, in press)

– Lord JP (2017) Temperature, space availability, and species assemblages impact competition in global fouling communities. Biological Invasions 19: 43-55

– Lord JP, Grant G, Palma D, Nigrete N, Dalvano B (2016) Global collaboration of students and teachers to monitor invasive species. Current: The Journal of Marine Education 30: 49-54

  1. Deep-Sea Sponge Pumping Rates and Filtration

This project is in its early stages but is a collaboration with Kakani Katija and Jim Barry, with the goal of understanding the ecological role that deep-sea sponges play in particle removal and resuspension. We began this project on the beautiful and diverse community at Sur Ridge, where we used particle image velocimetry to estimate the velocity of water exiting sponge oscula (pumping rates). We have since compared the PIV data to acoustic current meters and conducted lab experiments to quantify clearance rates and particle removal efficiency of several species of sponges. We plan to sample sponge excurrent water in-situ on upcoming cruises to further discern the size distribution of particles that are removed from the water column by deep sea sponges. This project could not only reveal a high-accuracy method to determine sponge pumping rates (PIV) but also quantify the role of deep-sea sponges in capture or resuspension of POC.