Brian Helmuth Ph.D.


Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences
School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

1989 B.S. Cornell University
1991 M.S. Northeastern University
1997 Ph.D. University of Washington
1997-1999 Post-Doc Stanford University
1999-2012 Professor University of South Carolina

My research explores the effects of climate and climate change on the physiology and ecology of marine organisms. Specifically, I use thermal engineering techniques, including a combination of fieldwork, remote sensing, and mathematical modeling, to explore the ways in which the environment determines the body temperatures of coastal marine animals such as mussels and seastars. Combined with energetics models, this approach provides a quantitative method of mapping patterns of growth, reproduction, and survival in economically and ecologically important coastal species. A major goal of this approach (funded by NASA and NSF) is to inform decision-makers with scientifically accurate and useful forecasts. While much of my work has focused on North American rocky intertidal ecosystems, my lab also collaborates with researchers in Australia, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iraq, South Africa, and the U.K.

Our work has shown some surprising results and has suggested that our expectations of where to look for the effects of climate change in nature can be more complex than previously anticipated. For example, our research has shown that along the Pacific coast of the U.S., animal temperatures at sites in Oregon and Washington can be as hot or hotter than sites much farther to the south in California, due to the complex interaction of climate and tides in the region. As a result, we should not necessarily expect to see mortality at the southern ends of species range boundaries, but also at these hot spots. This complexity suggests that unless we know where and when to look for impacts of climate change, many early impacts could go unnoticed.

Selected Publications:

Monaco, C.J., D.S. Wethey and B. Helmuth. 2014. A Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) Model for the Keystone Predator Pisaster ochraceus. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104658. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104658.

Colvard, N.B., E. Carrington and B. Helmuth. 2014. Temperature-dependent photosynthesis in the intertidal alga Fucus gardneri and sensitivity to ongoing climate change . JEMBE 458:6-12.

Petes, L.E., J.F. Howard, B. Helmuth and E.K. Fly. 2014. Science integration into US climate and ocean policy. Nature Climate Change 4:671-677.

Montalto, V., G. Sará., P.M. Ruti, A. Dell’Aquila and B. Helmuth. 2014. Testing the effects of temporal data resolution on predictions of the effects of climate change on bivalves. Ecological Modelling 278:1-8.

Matzelle, A., V. Montalto, G. Sará, M. Zippay and B. Helmuth. 2014. Dynamic Energy Budget model parameter estimation for the bivalve Mytilus californianus: Application of the covariation method. Journal of Sea Research.

Sarà, G., M. Milanese, I. Prusina, A. Sarà, D.L. Angel, B. Glamuzina, T. Nitzan, S. Freeman, A. Rinaldi, V. Palmeri, V. Montalto, M.L. Martire, P. Gianguzza, V. Arizza, S.L. Brutto, M. De Pirro, B. Helmuth, J. Murray, S. De Cantis and G.A. Williams. 2014. The impact of climate change on Mediterranean intertidal communities: losses in coastal ecosystem integrity and services. Reg Environ Change 14:S5-S17.


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