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William M. "Monty" Graham

Senior Marine Scientist
Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama

Ph.D., 1994, University of California-Santa Cruz


M Graham

Paid Internship Available! 
See attached description & app    

The ecology and biology of gelatinous zooplankton...

 Research Interests

My research program is broadly aimed at processes that influence the production and distribution of coastal marine plankton. The principal area of research that I am involved with is the ecology and biology of gelatinous zooplankton. Current research activities in this area are all related to the potential response of gelatinous zooplankton predators to short-term (i.e., seasons) and long-term (i.e., years) changes in nutrient inputs from adjacent watersheds. Three main areas of activity include i) feeding, growth and metabolism of jellies that utilize patchily distributed prey, ii) reproduction and fertilization dynamics of jellies, and iii) behavioral adaptations of jellies that act to optimize growth and reproduction. A second area of research interest is the ecology of marine snow - large detrital particles responsible for the rapid transport of organic and inorganic material from the sea surface to the sea floor. Current research activities in this area include i) biotic and abiotic factors controlling the production and sinking of marine snow in coastal environments and ii) in situ estimation of marine snow production over small spatial and temporal scales. A third area of research interest is ecosystem-level linkage between estuaries and the coastal ocean. Specifically, I am interested in the role that estuarine zooplankton play in controlling the exchange of nutrients and energy between estuaries and the continental shelf.

My research program is maintained at the coastal facilities of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab; though, I currently collaborate with researchers in several other states and countries. In addition to the 'common resources' of DISL (e.g., vessels, computer facilities, analytical laboratories and general wet laboratory space), my laboratory has specialized analytical instruments used for the measurement of lipid, a variety of dissecting and epifluorescence microscopes, and multi-port respirometry apparatus. Our wet laboratory has a culturing facility to rear zooplankton for use in feeding experiments, and I have 20 large and small closed circulation tanks designed specifically for the culture/experimentation of gelatinous zooplankton. I also have a towed/profiling video system for the in situ study of gelatinous zooplankton in shallow coastal ecosystems, a variety of plankton nets, and large mesocosm enclosures for studying feeding dynamics of large jellies under 'natural' ocean conditions.

Selected Publications

Graham, W.M. Evidence for numerical and distributional changes of jellyfish populations in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In J. Purcell, W. Graham and H. Dumont (eds.) Jellyfish Populations: Ecological and Economic Effects. Kluwer Academic. Submitted.

Graham, W.M. and R Kroutil. Size-based prey selectivity and dietary shifts in the jellyfish, Aurelia aurita. Journal of Plankton Research. Submitted.

Pages, F., W. M. Graham, and W. M. Hamner. A review of the physical factors that promote agregations of gelatinous zooplankton. In J. Purcell, W. Graham and H. Dumont (eds.) Jellyfish Populations: Ecological and Economic Effects. Kluwer Academic. To be submitted.

Purcell, J. E., D. L. Breitburg, M. B. Decker, W. M. Graham, M. J. Youngbluth, and K. Raskoff. (In Press). Pelagic Cnidarians and Ctenophores in Low Dissolved Oxygen Environments. Effects of hypoxia on living resources, with emphasis on the northern Gulf of Mexico. N.N. Rabalais and R.E. Turner (eds.). American Geophysical Union.

Graham, W. M., S. MacIntyre and A. L. Alldredge. (2000). Diel patterns in the concentration of marine snow and particle flux in surface waters. Deep-Sea Research I. 47: 367-395.

Reed, D. C., M. A. Brzezinski, D. A. Coury, W. M. Graham and R. L. Petty. (1999). Neutral lipids in macroalgal spores and their role in swimming. Marine Biology. 133: 737-744.

Graham, W. M. (1998). First report of Carybdea alata var. grandis (Reynaud 1830) (Cnidaria: Cubozoa) from the Gulf of Mexico. 16: 28-30 Gulf of Mexico Science.

Graham, W.M. and J.L. Largier. (1997). Upwelling shadows as nearshore retention sites: the example of northern Monterey Bay. Continental Shelf Research. 17: 509-532.

Lenarz, W.H., D. VenTresca, W.M. Graham and F.B. Schwing. (1995). Explorations of El Ninos and associated biological population dynamics of central California. California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations, Reports. 36:106-119.

Graham, W.M., J.G. Field, D.C. Potts. (1992). Persistent "upwelling shadows" and their influence on zooplankton distributions. Marine Biology. 114: 561-570.

Selected Current Research Grants

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant. 
Request for sponsorship of the First Annual International Conference on Jellyfish Blooms: 'Jellyfish blooms of North America: A scientific and Societal Agenda.' 

EPA Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies.  Interaction between water-column structure and reproduction in jellyfish populations of Mobile Bay.  

EPA Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies.  Effects of variation in river discharge and wind-driven resuspension on higher trophic levels in the Mobile Bay ecosystem.  (With J. Cowan (Principal Investigator) and J. Valentine).

EPA Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies.  Recruitment potential of Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) polyps around natural and artificial substrates in Mobile Bay.

Energetic consequences of feeding in a patchy environment:  possible limitations to jellyfish production in coastal ecosystems.


Current Graduate Students Post Doctoral Associates


Luciano Chiaverano
Mary E. Miller

Keith Bayha

Randi Shiplett
Zeb Schobernd



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