Michael Studivan

Michael Studivan

FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Florida Atlantic University  (United States)
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Research interests

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Mike is a Ph.D. candidate who joined the lab in August of 2012. His dissertation research examines the ecology and genetic connectivity of mesophotic coral reefs (>30m) and the interaction of environment and genotype on coral morphological adaptation to depth. Mesophotic reefs have been under recent research attention with their increasing discovery near shallow reefs, in part due to their benefits as fish habitats. His dissertation research will address key questions regarding mesophotic reefs using Montastraea cavernosa from the Gulf of Mexico (Flower Garden Banks and Pulley Ridge) and the Caribbean (Carrie Bow Cay, Belize). (1) How well are MCEs connected to shallow reefs? (2) How do shallow and mesophotic conspecifics differ in gene expression and corallite morphology? (3) Can corals adapt their morphology and gene expression to match changing environmental stimuli? Mike’s dissertation will test these questions using a combination of molecular techniques (microsatellites and RNASeq) and a reciprocal transplant experiment to assess connectivity, phenotypic plasticity, and gene expression responses of mesophotic corals. Prior to his graduate work at Harbor Branch, he completed his undergraduate degree at St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a senior thesis describing the effects of oil dispersant exposure on soft coral Xenia elongata bleaching (now published). He then worked at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory identifying Arctic benthic invertebrates for climate change and petroleum exploration research. He is a technical diver with certifications from GUE, AAUS, TDI, PADI, and PSI/PCI. He also has six years of video editing experience and has been producing outreach videos for the lab.