Dr. Donald C. Behringer

Associate Professor

Affiliations

University of Florida
School of Forest Resources and Conservation - Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program
Emerging Pathogens Institute
UF School of Natural Resources and the Environment (affiliated faculty)
UF College of Veterinary Medicine - Aquatic Animal Health Program (affiliated faculty)

Education

Ph.D. 2003 Old Dominion University, Ecological Sciences.
B.S. 1991 University of Florida, Zoology.

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Contact

Phone: (352) 273-3634
Email: behringer@ufl.edu
Address: University of Florida, 7922 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, Florida 32653

Graduate Students

Abigail Clark

Doctoral Student

Education

M.S. University of New Hampshire
B.S. Emmanuel College

Contact

Email: clarkab@ufl.edu

Research Interests

Ever since I could explore the intertidal pools of New England, I knew that I wanted to be a marine biologist. As a masters student at UNH, I studied the American lobster Homarus americanus under the supervision of Dr. Winsor Watson. My research focused on discovering the relationship between lobster trap catch and lobster density. My experience in and enthusiasm for lobster ecology inspired me to then study the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus at the University of Florida. As a doctoral student, I am evaluating the connectivity and drivers of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) prevalence at different scales and in different habitats. Through integration of molecular techniques and spatial analysis, I intend to unveil the relationship between habitat structure and PaV1 transmission.

Erica Ross

Doctoral Student


Education

B.S. Boston University

Contact

Email: epross@ufl.edu

Research Interests

My thesis focuses on the effects of chemosensory communication on Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) ecology. Panulirus argus virus 1 is the first naturally occurring pathogenic virus reported for lobsters and has striking effects on its ecology. I plan to explore 1) how disease acts as a chemical signal in the environment, which alters movement and orientation 2) what part of the chemical disease signal does P. argus detects to illicit avoidance behavior 3) the differences in avoidance and aggregation response between diseased and healthy lobsters 4) if this avoidance response is a behavior that has co-evolved with PaV1 prevelance or if it is a general response to a certain class of molecules to tease out indicators of PaV1 as an emerging pathogen.


Nathan Berkebile

Masters Student


Education

B.S. Old Dominion University

Contact

Email: nberk001ufl.edu

Research Interests

I am pursuing a Master's Degree in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Tropical ecology has always fascinated me and the exploitation of ornamental species is an important topic I plan to pursue. Sea cucumbers are fished regularly for their value as an aquarium species but also as a human food source. This has led to overfishing in many parts of the world. I am focusing my research on the Florida sea cucumber, Holothuria floridana, and its trophic importance to benthic communities in the Florida Keys.


Mark Sheehan

Masters Student


Education

B.S. Eckerd College

Contact

Email: iammarksheehan@ufl.edu

Research Interests

During my undergraduate studies at Eckerd College, I developed an interest in balancing the demands of commercial fisheries with the necessity of marine conservation. Because of this, I plan to focus my research on the disease Panulirus argus Virus One, PaV1, and its effects on the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, which supports a crucial Florida fishery.  My research will focus on quantifying the mortality caused by PaV1 over a wide variety of size classes of juvenile lobsters. In addition, I will attempt to both assess the impacts that PaV1 has on P. argus postlarval metamorphosis and determine where P. argus postlarvae entering the Florida Keys come into contact with PaV1.


Michael Dickson

Masters Student

Education

B.S. University of Florida

Contact

Email: cactus27@ufl.edu

Research Interests

I am astounded at how little information exists on wild caught species for the aquarium trade. Information on their population structure or the environmental impacts of harvest are utterly absent. To begin to fill these information knowledge gaps, I focused my thesis on the ecology and population structure of the peppermint shrimp, Lysmata boggessi, in the Gulf of Mexico. This shrimp is highly desired by home aquarists and is a lucrative species in the marine life trade. My research is aimed at determining: 1) the seasonal population and reproductive dynamics for L. boggessi, 2) the role of L. boggessi in its benthic community, 3) how it uses seagrass and hard-bottom habitats, and 4) the mechanism driving the sociality observed among shrimp. Taken together, these experiments will inform management and help us understand the interactions between harvest and shrimp ecology.

Danielle Puls

Masters Student

Education

B.S. University of Florida

Contact

Email: danipuls@ufl.edu

Research Interests

I am working towards a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology, with a focus in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. My project aims to determine the mechanics behind sponge mortality in Florida Bay in response to cyanobacteria algae blooms. There is an apparent correlation between these blooms and subsequent sponge die-offs, but the exact cause of mortality remains unknown. Following an algae bloom in 2007, mortality of some species such as the loggerhead sponge (Spheciospongia vesparium) was very high (100% in some locations), while for species such as the golf ball sponge (Cinachyrella sp.) mortality was low. I am specifically focusing on the sponge canal architecture of these two species to determine if mortality is a function of clogged internal structure, thus preventing gas exchange or sufficient intake and digestion of food.

Rebecca Squibb Hart

Masters Student


Education

B.S. Old Dominion University

Contact

Email: rebeccasquibb@gmail.com

Research Interests

Shortly after graduating with a B.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University, I began working in the Behringer Lab. As a technician, I have worked on a variety of exciting projects involving coral reef surveying in South Florida, lobster disease dynamics, sponge restoration, environmental impact assessment, and ornamental marine life histories. I recently became a graduate student and hope to expand on some of the projects I have worked on in the past. I am particularly interested in research supporting marine conservation, especially that of Florida’s reef and hard bottom communities.


Matthew Smukall

Masters Student

Education

B.S. University of Florida

Contact

Email: mattsmukall@gmail.com

Research Interests

I am enrolled in the Master’s of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program. Additionally, I am working in Alaska as a fisheries technician studying the movements of invasive Northern pike in the Sustina River drainage and the impact they are having on native salmonid populations. My general interests are fisheries population ecology and factors influencing population dynamics. The focus of my MFAS project is on determining how catch-and-release of female salmon during migration influences success of spawning and egg viability.

Former Students

 


Elliot Hart

M.S. University of Florida 2014

B.S. University of Florida

Email: jehart@ufl.edu

I studied the interactions of the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) and Florida stone crab (Mennippe mercenaria), species that comprise two of Florida’s most valuable fisheries. The goal of my research was to determine what interactions occur between the two species, and what effects these interactions have on recruitment into the fisheries.


Andrew Barbour

Ph.D. University of Florida 2013

B.S. Duke University

Email: ufsnook@gmail.com

My project was aimed at gaining a better understanding of juvenile marine and estuarine fish in nursery habitat. Specifically, I am employed telemetry to understand the movement patterns and survival of juvenile common snook in mangrove creeks in southwest Florida.


Joshua Anderson

M.S. University of Florida 2011

B.S. University of Missouri

Email andersonja.05@gmail.com

My master’s research involved the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) and its ability to chemically detect the lethal virus, Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1). This research encompassed determining how the virus was detected and how the detection and avoidance of infected conspecifics actually affected juvenile population spatial dynamics in this gregarious crustacean.