Theresa M. Davenport
Phone: (804) 684-7972
Office: Andrews Hall, 422
Department: Biological Sciences
Advisor: Rochelle D. Seitz
B.S. Gettysburg College. Biology and Environmental Studies
I am generally interested in the ecology of near-shore systems, including predator-prey interactions and food web dynamics, and how these change under anthropogenic influences. How are humans altering our near-shore ecological communities, and what are the consequences to ecosystem functions upon which we depend?
My Master's research at VIMS entails a study of near-shore communities before and after residential shoreline development. For example, when a family with waterfront property puts up a rip-rap revetment in place of a natural marsh shoreline, what are the impacts on the near-shore community? I am examining infauna (worms, clams, and amphipods), blue crabs and near-shore fishes as my experimental community, and measuring changes in abundance, biomass, and diversity of these animals with development. Preliminary results show a decrease in density of small, juvenile bivalves (“recruits”) in developed systems as compared to undeveloped systems.
Additionally, I am comparing the influence of predation on infaunal communities at developed and undeveloped shorelines. To do this, I set out cages to exclude predators (fishes and blue crabs) from small plots of sediment adjacent to developed and undeveloped shorelines. The cages are deployed during the summer months when predation is prominent. After this period, I sample the infauna from caged (protected from predation) and open (subject to predation) plots for comparison.
My involvement in the GK-12 fellowship stems from a two-fold interest in teaching and research. My fellowship placement involves Biology classes for 9th and 10th graders, as well as Marine Biology for 11th and 12th graders, many of whom are interested in pursuing a career in science. I would like to conduct research that can be applied to policy decisions. This career path requires me not only to conduct sound scientific research, but also present it meaningfully to diverse audiences, both scientific and non-scientific. The GK-12 PERFECT program is a wonderful fit for my needs, as I am gaining experience communicating science to a wide variety of students, some of whom have never once considered science as a career, and some who plan to pursue it. Additionally, I am interested in perusing a teaching career in higher education, and the GK-12 PERFECT program is providing me with highly valuable experience in the classroom.