Matt Edwards 

Department of Biology
Professor, Biology

Office/Lab: SDSU Main Campus, Life Science North 204B/209
Phone: 619-594-7049 (office)/619-594-0114 (lab)

Marine Plant Ecology Lab


I am interested in the causes and consequences of variability in biological communities.  My research focuses on patterns of variation in giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests at multiple spatial and temporal scales throughout the species’ geographic range in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.  As part of my research program, I have been examining the relative importance of numerous physical and biological factors in the structuring of kelp forest communities, as well as how these factors modify interactions among co-occurring species, with particular emphasis on large-scale phenomena (such as El Niño Southern Oscillations and global climate change).

A second focus of my research program has been to examine how opportunistic marine algae maintain populations in spatially and temporally heterogeneous environments, with particular attention on the role of dormant microscopic life-history stages.  My future research plans involve continuing to assess the causes and consequences of variation in kelp forests while attempting to assess how different life-history traits allow some species to either take advantage of or buffer against variation in environmental conditions.  By examining these processes at multiple scales over large geographic areas and long time periods, I hope my research will ultimately offer insights into the issue of generality, an often contentious but poorly understood issue in ecology.

I believe one of the fundamental goals in ecology is to explain temporal and spatial patterns in organism abundance and distribution. This encompasses a broad range of questions with the ultimate goal of understanding how populations and communities function in order to sustainably use and preserve them. My research focuses on five primary areas related to this charge:

  1. Assessing the causes and consequences of variability in coastal marine
    communities at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
  2. Identifying the relative contribution of various biological and physical
    factors to the structuring of these communities.
  3. Determining how different life-history traits allow populations to
    take advantage of or buffer against environmental variability.
  4. Developing and expanding on experimental and statistical methods that
    facilitate the study of organisms in the field.
  5. Assessing regional and local patterns of biodiversity in coastal marine

What unites these topics is the integration of organism demography and ecology with aspects of the physical and biological environment, and the use of numerous experimental and statistical approaches to discern the relative contribution of different environmental factors to the maintenance of coastal marine communities. I believe that a sound conceptual understanding of how organisms respond to their environment is fundamental to building a comprehensive research program in coastal marine ecology and to the progress of ecology in general.

Leslie Booher (M.S.)

Research Interests: Uptake of pollutants by Ulva lactuca


Mitch Johnson (M.S.)

Research Interests: Effects of climate change on purple urchin and spiny lobster in Southern California kelp forests


Shelby Penn (Ph.D.)

Research Interests: Role of algae in metal cycling through coastal ecosystems


Kristina Stodder (M.S.)

Research Interests: Algal and gorgonian defense mechanisms


Tallulah Winquist (Ph.D.)

Research Interests: Kelp forest ecology


1. Metzger, JR, B Konar, MS Edwards (in press) Assessing a macroalgal foundation species: community variation with shifting algal assemblages. Marine Biology

2. Edwards, MS (2019) Comparing the impacts of four ENSO events on giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Algae. 34: 141-151.

3. Haas, H, TJ Braje, MS Edwards, JM Erlandson and SG Whitaker (2019). Black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii) population structure shifts through deep time: Management implications for southern California’s northern Channel Islands. Ecology and Evolution 9: 4721-4732 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.5075

4. Bland, A, B. Konar, MS Edwards (2019) Spatial trends and environmental drivers of epibenthic shelf community structure across the Aleutian Islands. Continental Shelf Research. TBD.

5. Yarimizu, K, R Cruz-Lopez, E. Garcia-Mendoza, M. Edwards, ML Carter, CJ Carrano (2018). Distribution of dissolved iron and bacteria producing the photoreactive siderophore, vibrioferrin, in waters off Southern California and Northern Baja. Biometals 32: 139-154. 0123458697().,-volV)

6. Kim, JH, SA Kim, MS Edwards and IA Lee (2018). Anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenol extracts from Ulva linza (Ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta). Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences 10: 212-219.

7. Edwards, MS (2018). Book Review: “Protocols for Macroalgal Research”, by Bénédicte C, T Wichard and CRK Reddy. Journal of Phycology

8. Cavalcanti, G, P Shukla, M Morris, B Ribeiro, M Foley, M Doane, C Thompson, M Edwards, E Dinsdale and F Thompson (2018). Rhodoliths holobionts in a changing ocean: Host-microbes interactions mediate coralline algae resilience under ocean acidification. BMC Genomics 19: 701-714.

9. J Minich, JJ., M. Morris, M. Brown, M. Doane, MS Edwards, TP Michael and EA Dinsdale (2018) Elevated temperature drives kelp microbiome dysbiosis, while elevated carbon dioxide induces water microbiome disruption. PLOS ONE: PONE-D-17-36707R2

10. Gabara, S, S. Hamilton, M Edwards and D Steller (2018). Rhodolith structural loss decreases abundance, diversity, and stability of benthic communities at Santa Catalina Island, CA. Marine Ecology Progress Series 595: 71-88 DOI: