Dr. Chelsie Counsell

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology with Dr. Megan Donahue. I completed my Ph.D. in Marine Biology at the University of Hawai‘i. Previously, I earned a Master’s of Science in Ecology and Evolution from Florida State University, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Elon University.

My research focuses on understanding how biophysical oceanographic dynamics affect the distribution, connectivity, and fitness of marine organisms and subsequently the structure of marine communities. I have studied how climate change impacts intertidal communities and how bottom water hypoxia affects the distribution of megafauna. I have also tracked coral reef communities to quantify natural variation and to evaluate the support for potential drivers of community composition through space and time. As part of these efforts, I am working with geneticists to describe spatiotemporal kinship patterns within recruiting cohorts of damselfish, with coral physiologists to see if bleaching history impacts coral fitness as measured through fecundity and tissue growth, and with an interdisciplinary team to quantify connectivity of a common reef fish along the windward coast of O‘ahu.

Currently, my two core projects are (1) evaluating various physical and biological factors as potential structuring forces for cryptic coral-associated reef communities over spatial and temporal scales, and (2) managing the Hawai‘i Monitoring and Reporting Collaborative’s coral reef database and utilizing these data to investigate correlations between spatial variation in ecological indicators and oceanographic parameters as well as anthropogenic inputs to inform management actions as part of the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative.