I am a PhD student in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In my research, I like think broadly about ecological and physical processes that shape marine food webs and the consequences of those processes becoming increasingly altered in our rapidly changing world. My day to day research efforts are focused on community ecology of intertidal flats and wetlands, natural history and conservation of coastal habitats, biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, marine plant-animal interactions, habitat modification and facilitation, and the consequences of biological invasions. The bulk of my work has been with marine plant and animal communities of temperate West Atlantic coastlines, particularly those found in intertidal habitats of the South Atlantic Bight, including mudflats, rubble structures, and halophytic wetlands.
I have a deep interest in the causality of changes in marine ecosystems that inspires my study questions. My primary research focuses on how human-induced changes in marine plant communities (extinctions and invasions) impact the organization and functioning of coastal ecosystems, and, ultimately, the valuable services that these key habitats provide to humans. I’d also like to know how we might optimize management strategies in order to mitigate adverse environmental and socioeconomic consequences. These are broad questions, and so my experimental studies span multiple levels of biological organization and modes of inquiry in order to test widely-held assumptions and reinforce our understanding of the natural world. My aim is to provide a holistic perspective that will enable robust predictions on how ecologically and economically important coastal ecosystems will respond to intense human perturbation. This work is particularly relevant to marine conservation efforts because imprudent actions have profoundly altered many of the biological and physical processes of our planet, with consequences for posterity that are poorly understood.
Aaron P. Ramus
PhD Student & Teaching Assistant
B.S. 2011 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.S. 2014 University of North Carolina Wilmington
My approach to science has been shaped by numerous experiences with professors, students, and collaborators over the years. I am a native of Beaufort, NC, and I pursued my undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was during this time that my passion for ecological research and marine conservation was first sparked; specifically, while enumerating invertebrates from the local Radio Island Jetty under a stereomicroscope. Next, I spent two summers conducting undergraduate research at the Duke Marine Lab as an REU and Bookhout Research Scholar. In 2014, I received my MS from UNCW, prior to beginning the PhD program here. My MS thesis research investigated multitrophic relationships between biodiversity, stability, and ecosystem functioning in experimental hard-substratum communities (e.g., jetties, pilings, seawalls) of the South Atlantic Bight. I’ve also worked as a laboratory instructor (formally “Teaching Assistant”) at UNCW since 2011, where my teaching efforts have focused on cell biology and general ecology. In the course of this work I’ve taught a variety of topics to undergraduates, ranging from scientific writing to basic statistical analyses and on to practical methodological techniques, such as wetland delineation, for example. Previously I spent two summers working as a naturalist guide on kayak tours in Wilmington, NC, where I particularly enjoyed being able to educate and inspire younger people with hands-on activities and fun facts.
Thanks for visiting and feel free to contact me.