Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Jon Lefcheck

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Email : [[jslefche]]
Phone : (804) 684-7150, 7148
Office : Andrews Hall 105
Department : Biological Sciences


Ph.D., Marine Science. 2015. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia.

B.A., Biology. 2009. Colby College, Waterville, Maine.

Research Interests

I’m a post-doctoral research associate studying marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary in Gloucester Point, VA.

My interests span from marine community ecology with a focus on seagrass systems, to biodiversity science, to ecological statistics. My research focuses on new ways of thinking about biodiversity, specifically the use of organismal ‘functional’ traits and evolutionary history to help answer ecological questions using a combined experimental and observational approach.

In particular, I’m interested in how functional traits, and phylogeny and taxonomy, can be used to describe and explain patterns and processes in nature. I’m currently:

  • Investigating how the structure and diversity of animal communities respond to the continued restoration of a foundational eelgrass species using data from the VIMS SAV Restoration program.
  • Exploring global biogeographic patterns, mechanisms of community assembly, and drivers of productivity in reef fishes using data from the Reef Life Survey network.
  • Investigating seasonal and interannual patterns in invertebrate diversity in Chesapeake Bay seagrass beds, with an emphasis on community responses to catastrophic warming events.
  • Explaining how seagrass/macroalgal beds function, using experimental manipulations of estuarine consumers and conducting a literature review of faunal-macrophyte interactions.

In Revision

Schmitt, M. W. Luckenbach, J.S. Lefcheck, R.J. Orth. “Predator-prey interactions in a restored eelgrass ecosystem: Strategies for maximizing success of a reintroduced species, Argopecten irradians.” Restoration Ecology.

In Review

J.E. Duffy, J.S. Lefcheck, R.D. Stuart-Smith, S.A. Navarette, G.J. Edgar. “Biodiversity enhances reef fish biomass and resistance to climate change.”

J..S. Lefcheck, S.J. Brandl, P.L. Reynolds, A.R. Smyth, S.T. Meyer. “Extending rapid ecosystem function assessments to marine systems: A reply to Meyer.”

G.J. Edgar, T.J. Alexander, J.S. Lefcheck, A.E. Bates, S.J. Kininmonth, R.J. Thomson, J.E. Duffy, R.D.
Stuart-Smith. “The global distribution of shallow marine life.”

J.S. Lefcheck, S.R. Marion, R.J. Orth. “Actively restored ecosystems as a refuge for biological diversity: A case study from eelgrass (Zostera marina L.).” Pre-print PDF


15. J.S. Lefcheck. “piecewiseSEM: Piecewise structural equation modeling in R for ecology, evolution, and systematics.” Methods in Ecology & Evolution. In press. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12512. PDF

14. J.E. Duffy, S.L. Ziegler, J.E. Campbell, P. Bippus, & J.S. Lefcheck. “Squidpops: A simple tool to crowdsource a global map of marine predation intensity."  PLoS ONE 10(11): e0142994. DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0142994. PDF

13. J.S. Lefcheck, J.E. Duffy. "Functional diversity enhances ecosystem functioning in experimental assemblages of estuarine consumers." Ecology 96(11): 2973-2983. DOI: 10.1890/14-1977.1. PDF

12. J.E. Duffy, P.L. Reynolds, C. Boström, J.A. Coyer, M. Cusson, S. Donadi, J.G. Douglass, J. Eklöf, A. Engelen, B.K. Eriksson, S. Fredriksen, L. Gamfeldt, C. Gustafsson, G. Hoarau, M. Hori, K. Hovel, K. Iken, J.S. Lefcheck, P. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, M.I. O'Connor, J.L. Olsen, J.P. Richardson, J.L. Ruesink, E.E. Sotka, J. Thormar, M.A. Whalen, J.J. Stachowicz. "Biodiversity mediates top-down control in eelgrass ecosystems: A global comparative-experimental approach." Ecology Letters 18(7): 696-705. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12448. PDF / press release

11. J.S. Lefcheck, J.E.K. Byrnes, F. Isbell, L. Gamfeldt, J.H. Griffin, N. Eisenhauer, M.J.H. Hensel, A. Hector, B.J. Cardinale, J.E. Duffy. “Biodiversity enhances ecosystem multifunctionality across trophic levels and habitats.” Nature Communications 6: 6936. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7936. PDF (open-access) / press release

10. L. Gamfeldt, J.S. Lefcheck, J.E.K. Byrnes, J.E. Duffy, B.J. Cardinale, J.N. Griffin. “Marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: what’s known and what’s next.” Oikos 124(3): 252-265. DOI: 10.1111/oik.01549. *Editor's Choice. PDF (open-access) / Oikos Blog

9. R. Stuart-Smith, A.E. Bates, J.S. Lefcheck, J.E. Duffy, S.C. Baker, R.J. Thomson, J.F. Stuart-Smith, N.A. Hill, S.J. Kininmonth, L. Airoldi, M.A. Becerro, S.J. Campbell, T.P. Dawson, S.A. Navarette, G.A. Soler, E.M.A. Strain, T.J. Willis, G.J. Edgar. 2015. “The importance of trait-based approaches to contribute to marine conservation.” Marine Policy 51: 148-150. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2014.07.002. PDF

8. J.S. Lefcheck, V.A.G. Bastazini, J.N. Griffin. 2015. “Choosing and using multiple traits in functional diversity research.” Environmental Conservation.  DOI: 10.1017/S0376892914000307. *Invited contribution. *Paper of the Month. PDF (open-access) / Cambridge Blogs


7. J.E.K. Byrnes, J.S. Lefcheck, L. Gamfeldt, J.N. Griffin, F.I. Isbell., A. Hector. “Multifunctionality does not imply that all functions are positively correlated: Reply to Bradford et al.” PNAS. 111(51): E5490. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1419515112. PDF

6. T.J. Bird, A.E. Bates, J.S. Lefcheck, N.A. Hill, S. Wotherspoon, M. Krkosek, R. Stuart-Smith, J. Stuart-Smith, G. Pecl, G.J. Edgar, R.J. Thomson, N. Barrett, S. Frusher. 2014. “Statistical solutions for error and bias in global citizen science datasets.” Biological Conservation 173: 144-154. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.037. *Invited contribution. PDF

5. J.S. Lefcheck, J. van Montfrans, R.J. Orth, E.L. Schmitt, J.E. Duffy, M. Luckenbach. 2014. “Epifaunal invertebrates as predators of juvenile bay scallops (Argopectin irradians).” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 454: 18-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2014.01.014. PDF

4. J.S. Lefcheck, A. Buchheister, K.M. Laumann, M. Stratton, K. Sobocinski, S. Chak, T.R. Clardy, P.L. Reynolds, R.J. Latour, J.E. Duffy. 2014. “Dimensions of biodiversity in Chesapeake Bay demersal fishes: Patterns and drivers through space and time.” Ecosphere 5(2): art14DOI: 10.1890/ES13-00284.1. PDF (open-access)

3. J.E.K. Byrnes, L. Gamfeldt, F. Isbell, J.E. Duffy, J.S. Lefcheck, J.N. Griffin, A. Hector, B.J. Cardinale, D.U. Hooper, L.E. Dee. 2014. “Investigating the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality: Challenges and solutions.” Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5(2): 111-124. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12143. PDF


2. R. Stuart-Smith, A.E. Bates, J.S. Lefcheck, J.E. Duffy, S.C. Baker, R.J. Thomson, J.F. Stuart-Smith, N.A. Hill, S.J. Kininmonth, L. Airoldi, M.A. Becerro, S.J. Campbell, T.P. Dawson, S.A. Navarette, G.A. Soler, E.M.A. Strain, T.J. Willis, G.J. Edgar. 2013. “Integrating abundance and functional traits reveals new global hotspots of fish diversity.” Nature 501(7468): 539-542. DOI: 10.1038/nature12529. PDF / press release

1. J.S. Lefcheck, M.A. Whalen, T.M. Davenport, J.P. Stone, J.E. Duffy. 2013. “Physiological effects of dietary mixing on consumer fitness: A meta-analysis.” Ecology 94(3): 565-527. DOI: 10.1890/12-0192.1. PDF (open-access) / press release

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Cirriculum Vitae

Download a copy of my CV (PDF)


Sample(ECOLOGY), my own blog on biodiversity science, ecology, statistics, and R.

GitHub, a repository for R code and tutorials.

BioDiverse Perspectives, a blog about all aspects of biodiversity science, written by graduate students. Our goal is to bring interesting, seminal papers to other graduate students in casual, approachable language, and to provide a forum for graduate students to come together and discuss the future of biodiversity research

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