Kevin Hovel

Department of Biology
Professor, Biology

Office/Lab: SDSU Main Campus, Life Science 352/341
Phone: 6619-594-6322 (office)/619-594-5645 (lab)

Marine Conservation Ecology Lab


I joined the SDSU faculty in 2001. Before arriving at SDSU, in 1999 I received my Ph.D. from the School of Marine Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, part of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. I then was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate, working at the Beaufort, NC NOAA lab with Dr. Mark Fonseca. In 2000 I moved to California and spent one year as a visiting assistant professor at Sonoma State University in Sonoma County, CA before coming to SDSU.

My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of marine invertebrates. Some of the projects underway in the lab include (see my research page for more information and more projects):

  • the effects of seagrass habitat structure on invertebrate population dynamics, community structure, and predator-prey relationships, with particular reference to structure at landscape scales
  • spiny lobster behavior, survival, and population dynamics in southern California
  • effects of habitat structure on American lobster population dynamics, behavior, survival, and distribution in New England (a collaboration with Dr. Rick Wahle of the Bigelow Labs for Ocean Sciences, and funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA’s National Undersea Research Program).
  • population dynamics of the Asian mussel Musculista senhousia in southern California.

Kyra Barboza (M.S.)

B.S. Environmental Science and Policy, California State University, Long Beach (2015)

Research Interests: Human impacts, contaminants, predator-prey interactions, ecosystem function, biodiversity, community conservation and restoration

Thesis topic: TBD


Theresa Burnham (Ph.D.)

B.S. Biology, Northeastern University (2015)

Research Interests: Fisheries ecology, conservation biology, socioeconomic implications of climate change

Dissertation topic: TBD


Robert Dunn (Post-doc)

B.A. Environmental Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2009); M.S. Marine Science, North Carolina State University (2013); Ph.D. Ecology, San Diego State University/UC Davis (2019)

Research Interests: Predator-prey interactions, conservation, ecosystem restoration, fisheries ecology

Dissertation topic: California spiny lobster ecology and impacts of fisheries on rocky reef community dynamics


Website: Applied Marine Ecology

Jessica Griffin (M.S.)

B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut (2017); B.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Connecticut (2017)

Research Interests: Marine invasion ecology, predator-prey interactions, biogeography

Thesis topic: TBD


Erica Pollard (M.S.)

B.S. Biological Sciences, University of California Davis (2014)

Research Interests: Rocky reef ecology, predator-prey interactions, Panulirus interruptus

Thesis topic: Panulirus interruptus (TBD)


Dunn, R.P., M.L. Baskett, and K.A. Hovel. In press. Interactive effects of predator and prey harvest on ecological resilience of rocky reefs. Ecological Applications.

Reynolds, P.L., J.J. Stachowicz, K.A. Hovel, C. Boström, K. Boyer, M. Cusson, J.S. Eklöf, F.G. Engel, A.H. Engelen, B.K. Eriksson, J. Fodrie, J.N. Griffin, C. Hereu, M. Hori, T. Hanley, M. Ivanov, P. Jorgensen, C. Kruschel, K.S. Lee, K. McGlathery, P.O. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, F.T. Nash, M.I. O’Connor, N. O’Connor, R.J. Orth, F. Rossi, J. Ruesink, E. Sotka, R.K.F. Unsworth, M.A. Whalen, and J. E. Duffy. In press. Latitude, temperature and habitat complexity predict predation pressure in eelgrass across the Northern Hemisphere. Ecology.

Ruesink,J.L., P.L. Reynolds, C. Boström, M. Cusson, J. Douglass, J. Eklöf, A. H. Engelen, M. Hori, K. Hovel, K. Iken, P.O. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, M.I. O’Connor, J.L. Olsen, E.E. Sotka, J.J. Stachowicz, *M.A. Whalen, J.E. Duffy. In press. Global variation in form-function relationships in a marine foundation species and experimental tests of responses to multiple stressors. Oikos. DOI 10.1111/oik.04270

Hovel, K.A. and H.M. Regan. 2017. Using individual-based models to explore seascape ecology. In: Pittman, S.A. (ed.) Seascape Ecology. Wiley and Sons, Oxford, UK.

Yeager, M.E. and K.A. Hovel. 2017. Structural complexity and fish body size interactively affect habitat optimality. Oecologia DOI: 10.1007/s00442-017-3932-2

Dunn, R.P., A.H. Altieri, K. Miller, M.E. Yeager, and K.A. Hovel. 2017. Coral identity and structural complexity drive habitat associations and demographic processes for an increasingly important Caribbean herbivore. Marine Ecology Progress Series 577: 33-47.

Hovel, K.A., A.M. Warneke, S.P. Virtue-Hilborn, and **A.E. Sanchez. 2016. Mesopredator foraging success in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.): relative effects of epiphytes, shoot density, and prey abundance. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 474: 142-147.

Castorani, M.C.N. and K.A. Hovel. 2016. Native predator chemical cues induce anti-predation behaviors in an invasive marine bivalve. Biological Invasions 18: 169-181.

Harrington, A.C. and K.A. Hovel. 2016. Patterns of shelter use and their effects on the relative survival of subadult California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus). Marine and Freshwater Research 67: 1153-1162.

Castorani, MCN and K.A. Hovel. 2015. Invasive prey indirectly increase predation on their native competitors. Ecology 96: 1911-1922