William E. Avery


I have pursued my graduate education with the intention of eventually returning to a university such as CSU, Sacramento to teach General Biology, Ecology, Marine Biology, Invertebrate Zoology and/or a variety of upper division courses. I truly enjoy the Pacific Northwest (from California to Alaska). This bioregional province is extremely diverse and interesting from an ecological perspective. The mountains, forests, coastlines and ocean provide unmatchable arrays of natural history learning and teaching opportunities. I plan to continue to explore each of these ecological zones myself and sincerely enjoy the opportunity to teach beginning students about them.

As an ecologist, one gains a sensitivity to issues of human impact on the environment both at a local scale and at a global scale. Though I am very much a generalist and have studied extensively both terrestrial and marine ecology, I am particularly sensitive to issues involving aquatic systems as my research and work have taken me around the world from temperate kelp forests to tropical coral reefs and from shallow oceans to the deep sea. I am very interested in environmental and ecological conservation but also in advancing our understanding of biological and ecological processes. I am therefore hoping to maintain at least a modest amount of ongoing research.

I enjoy teaching undergraduates. I sincerely enjoy teaching basic biology classes as well as more advanced biology and ecology courses. I am a firm believer in involving students with the educational process (i.e. bringing them into active discussion and involving them with research - particularly questions they ask and studies that they design themselves!) rather than a strict top-down lecture approach.

Teaching is my main interest in working within the academic environment but I hope to maintain some research projects with which to involve my students. I have experience with obtaining funding for research and look forward to continuing such grantsmanship in the future. Potential research projects may include but will not be limited to the following: long-term coral reef and deep reef monitoring; intertidal monitoring; marine larval supply side ecology; continuation of some of my gray-whale-feeding research; general and specific paleontological studies; neotropical migrant bird habitat and population monitoring. I am also committed to maintaining a high academic standard including the application and understanding of mathematics and statistics as it relates to biology and ecology.

Possible Future Research Interests:

Marine larval supply-side ecology. I have begun designing an apparatus that will sample potential recruiting invertebrate larvae and algal spores on a continual basis and provide instantaneous digital information on abundances. By providing less-expensive, continuous monitoring and rapid data analysis, this project may help shed some light on what has been termed the "larval mystery phase" - a factor which may strongly influence the development and succession in intertidal and subtidal communities.

Neotropical Migrant Birds. Populations of many songbirds continue to decline in the United States. A simple monitoring program for populations and habitat is fairly easy to establish and may be a great way to involve undergraduates with an interesting beginning research project.

Coral reef ecology. Coral reefs are important regions of valuable high biological diversity and yet they appear to be in trouble globally due to over harvesting of associated fishes, increased coastal eutrophication and siltation as well as increasing ultraviolet radiation. I would like to maintain my involvement with coral reef studies through continued periodic returns to monitoring sites established during my dissertation research as well as participation in some of the new global coral reef monitoring programs.

Deep reef ecology. My dissertation research has merely scratched the surface of this potentially information-rich study area. I would like to continue the process of determining the taxa present on the slopes of the Great Bahama Bank (30 - 300m) and possibly start some experimental tests of hypotheses explaining the high diversity present on these slopes. I'd also like to find the deep-dwelling trilobites that deep-ocean marine scientists jokingly long to see.

California Gray Whales. Continue work on determining the extent and variation of offshore and estuarine benthic swarms of mysids, cumaceans and amphipods as possible food sources for migrating or resident California Gray Whales. Expansion and continuation of Craig Hawkinson's observations and record keeping on resident and migrating Gray Whales.

Humpback Whales. Passive acoustic tracking of migrating pods. This project would utilize existing US Navy submarine technology and vessels as part of the US Navy's desire for cooperative ventures with civilian academic research. Whales would be tracked passively using the forward acoustic array. This would shed light on questions regarding migratory behavior and the routes followed. The routes followed by humpbacks have long been a mystery. This would be valuable to the Navy, cetacean research and other researches such as those of Scripps global warming acoustic research concerned about the location of Humpbacks (for their protection).

Beaver. I have two fairly well-developed proposals for beaver-ecology research: a) pollen and phytolith stratigraphy of sediments impounded in beaver dams and ponds as an indication of local vegetation community change over decade and century time-scales; b) vegetation community comparisons among riparian zones inhabited and not-inhabited by Castor canadensis (introduced into Tierra del Fuego in 1945 and currently flourishing).

Horses. I would like to use carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in tooth enamel to determine whether a dietary shift hypothesis might be supported regarding late Pleistocene North American equids. This would be a further exploration of the Pleistocene overkill hypothesis vs. climatic shift hypothesis as explanations for the late Pleistocene demise of N.A. equids and presumably other megafauna. 

Avery (home page)