Jonathan  Lefcheck

Postdoctoral 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 researcher studying marine ecology at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary in Gloucester Point, VA.

My interests span from community ecology, with a focus on seagrasses, to biodiversity science to ecological statistics.

My research is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of biological diversity, particularly with respect to human well-being. I'm particularly interested in new ways to think about biological variation, including organismal functional traits and evolutionary history.

My post-doctoral work involves understanding the patterns and drivers of submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay over the past 30 years.

At the moment, I'm:

  • Using aerial survey data and long-term water quality monitoring to understand trends and drivers of submersed aquatic vegetation in Chesapeake Bay over the past 30 years;
  • Deploying a novel assay, the Squidpop, to characterize patterns in marine predation through space and time and across habitats;
  • Exploring how restoration of eelgrass habitat in the Delmarva coastal bays of the mid-Atlantic have facilitated the return of associated animals, including the commercially important bay scallop;
  • Clarifying global biogeographic patterns, drivers of productivity, and mechanisms of community assembly in reef fishes using data from the Reef Life Survey network;
  • Describing large-scale trends in marine predation pressure in seagrass beds as part of the Ocean Bitemap network;
  • Understanding how different management actions influence the integrated suite of ecosystem functions that underpin healthy coastal ecosystems;
  • Progressing the theory and application of structural equation modeling (SEM) to ecological research.

You can read more about my various projects here.

23. R.J. Orth, J.S. Lefcheck, D.J. Wilcox. (2017) Boat propeller scarring of seagrass beds in lower

Chesapeake Bay, USA: Patterns, causes, recovery, and management. Estuaries & Coasts.

22. J.S. Lefcheck, D.J. Wilcox, R.M. Murphy, S.R. Marion, R.J. Orth. (2017) Multiple stressors
threaten a critical foundational habitat, Zostera marina, in Chesapeake Bay, USA. Global Change 
Biology. In press.

21. R.D. Stuart-Smith, G.J. Edgar, N.S. Barrett, A.E. Bates, S.C. Baker, N.J. Bax, M.A. Becerro, J.L.
Blanchard, D.J. Brock, G.F. Clark, T.R. Davis, P.B. Day, J.E. Duffy, T.H. Holmes, A. Jordan, S.
Kininmonth, N.A. Knott, J.S. Lefcheck, S.D. Ling, A. Parr, E. Strain, H. Sweatman, R. Thomson.
(2017) Continental-scale assessment of biodiversity trends on Australia’s rocky and coral reefs.
BioScience. In press.

20. J.S. Lefcheck, S.R. Marion, R.J. Orth. (2017) Restored eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) as a refuge for epifaunal biodiversity in mid-Western Atlantic coastal bays. Estuaries & Coasts 40(1): 200. PDF

19. J.S. Lefcheck, S.R. Marion, A.V. Lombana, R.J. Orth. (2016) Faunal communities are invariant to fragmentation in experimental seagrass landscapes. PLoS ONE. 11(5): e0156550. PDF

18. J.E. Duffy, J.S. Lefcheck, R.D. Stuart-Smith, S.A. Navarette, G.J. Edgar. (2016) Biodiversity
enhances reef fish biomass and resistance to climate change. PNAS. 113(22): 6230–6235. PDF

17. Schmitt, M.W. Luckenbach, J.S. Lefcheck, R.J. Orth. (2016) Predator-prey interactions in a
restored eelgrass ecosystem: Strategies for maximizing success of a reintroduced species,
Argopecten irradians. Restoration Ecology 24(4): 558-565. PDF

16.  J.S. Lefcheck, S.J. Brandl, P.L. Reynolds, A.R. Smyth, S.T. Meyer. (2016) Extending rapid
ecosystem function assessments to marine systems. TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution 31(4):
251-253. PDF

15. J.S. Lefcheck. (2016) piecewiseSEM: Piecewise structural equation modeling in R for
ecology, evolution, and systematics. Methods in Ecology & Evolution. 7(5): 573-579. PDF

14.J.E. Duffy, S.L. Ziegler, J.E. Campbell, P. Bippus, J.S. Lefcheck. (2015) Squidpops: A simple tool to crowdsource a global map of marine predation intensity. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0142994. PDF

13. J.S. Lefcheck, J.E. Duffy. (2015) Multitrophic functional diversity predicts ecosystem
functioning in experimental assemblages of estuarine consumers. Ecology 96(11): 2973-2983. 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. (2015) Biodiversity mediates top-
down control in eelgrass ecosystems: A global comparative experiment. Ecology Letters 18(7):
696-705. PDF

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. (2015) Biodiversity enhances ecosystem multifunctionality across trophic levels and habitats. Nature Communications 6: 6936. PDF

10. L. Gamfeldt, J.S. Lefcheck, J.E.K. Byrnes, J.E. Duffy, B.J. Cardinale, J.N. Griffin. (2015) Marine
biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: what’s known and what’s next. Oikos 124(3): 252-265. PDF (open-access)

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. PDF

8. J.S. Lefcheck, V.A.G. Bastazini, J.N. Griffin. (2015) Choosing and using traits in functional
diversity research. Environmental Conservation 42(2): 104-107. PDF

7. J.E.K. Byrnes, J.S. Lefcheck, L. Gamfeldt, J.N. Griffin, F.I. Isbell., A. Hector. (2014)
Multifunctionality does not imply that all functions are positively correlated: Reply to Bradford
et al. PNAS. 111(51): E5490. 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. 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. PDF

4.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. PDF

3. 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): art14. 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.. PDF

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. PDF


L. Zhu, J.S. Lefcheck, B. Fu. (2017) Do current definitions and methods promote the general
application of functional traits and functional diversity? Pre-print PDF


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. (2017) The global distribution of shallow marine life.

R.J. Orth, W.C. Dennison, J.S. Lefcheck, C. Gurbisz, M. Hannam, J. Keisman, J.B. Landry, K.A.
Moore, R.R. Murphy, C.J. Patrick, J. Testa, D.E. Weller, D.J. Wilcox. (2017) Submersed aquatic
vegetation in Chesapeake Bay: sentinel species in a changing world.


J.S. Lefcheck, G.J. Edgar, R.D. Stuart-Smith, A.E. Bates, S. Kininmonth, S.D. Ling, J.E. Duffy. (2016) Random biodiversity losses reduce productivity and reveal human exploitation of global reef fish communities.

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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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