Wade Cooper

Wade’s broad research interests are in the ecological processes of community structure on coral reefs, particularly concerning recruitment dynamics of coral organisms.  For his dissertation research, he will attempt to address a question of considerable concern for conservation purposes both within the Florida Keys and Caribbean region as a whole: What are the processes leading to relatively low recruitment rates for most broadcast-spawning corals, such as the Montastrea annularis species complex and the Acroporids, versus a select few spawners with moderate to high recruitment levels in particular locations, such as Montastrea cavernosa and Siderastrea siderea, respectively.  A considerable number of hypotheses from many studies have been put forth as potential causes for recruitment limitation, such as reduced reproductive effort; fertilization failure in the sea (e.g., Allee effects); reduced larval quality and/or mortality during the planktonic larval phase (e.g., UV, salinity stress, chemical pollutants); lack of appropriate settlement sites (e.g., limited crustose coralline algae, space preemption by macroalgae); and post-settlement mortality (e.g., corallivory, excessive sedimentation).  Of these potential causes, Wade will focus on the issue of fertilization failure as a key determinant of settlement potential.  To accomplish this goal, he intends to combine spatially-explicit simulation modeling with empirical analyses of the reef benthos.  

Wade received a B.S. in Biology (Ecology option) and minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University in the spring of 1999.  He then entered the graduate program at the University of Colorado in the fall of 1999, where he studied urbanization impacts on grassland bird populations for his Masters degree.  After defending his Masters thesis in the spring of 2002, Wade entered the graduate program at the University of Miami, RSMAS, to begin his Ph.D. training in coral reef ecology.