Paul  Richardson

Scientist II

Email: [[jprichar]]
Phone: (804) 684-7148, 7883
Office: Andrews Hall 101
Department: Biological Sciences
Website: {{}}

Research Interests

My interests include all aspects of seagrass ecology including spatial ecology, food web dynamics, and more recently, restoration ecology.  My focus is principally in the Chesapeake Bay and the Virginia Coastal Bays, but I have also collaborated with seagrass ecologists around the globe via the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN). Most of my work has been in Emmett Duffy’s Marine Biodiversity Laboratory but I have transitioned to the SAV Lab headed up by Robert J. Orth.


2001.  M.S., Biological Oceanography: Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

1998.  B.S., Biology (Chemistry minor): Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

Professional Experience

Laboratory Manager and Research Scientist, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, VA; May 2001 – Present

Analyze data and prepare manuscripts for publication and present results to peers at meetings

Public outreach

All aspects of field and laboratory operations

Supervise and advise graduate students, interns, and laboratory employees

Order and maintain supplies and equipment

Construct experimental systems and devise field studies

Process samples using various analyses and instrumentation

Conduct several surveys of the fauna and flora of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia coastal bay seegrass beds

Taxonomic identification of estuarine fauna and flora

Maintain, calibrate, and operate several water quality instrument systems

Operate small vessels and onboard equipment (USCG 100-Ton License)

Collaborate internationally: worked 40 days in Finland, August-September 2012

Research Assistant, Department of Ocean, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA; Applied Research Center, Newport News, VA; August 1999 – May 2001

Conducted independent and supervised research of the effectiveness and mechanisms of plasma to kill bacteria and bacterial spores

Utilized fluorescent, light, and scanning electron microscopy of microorganisms, ATP analysis for microbial biomass, tritiated leucine incorporation to measure bacterial production, and

sole-source carbon substrate utilization (Biolog) experiments                                                     

Marine Technician, Department of Ocean, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA; May 1999 – August 1999

Provided technical support to scientists in the department – vessel operation, computer repair, carpentry, metal work, and vehicle maintenance

Research Intern, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD; January 1999 – April 1999

Marine Bio-invasions Program at SERC

Conducted independent research of the interactions of a pathogen Vibrio cholerae and a

copepod, Acartia tonsa, in simulated ballast-tank conditions

Interviewed the first officers of cargo and coal ships, sampled ships’ ballast water, and analyzed

ballast water data in the lab

Presented findings via seminar to the SERC community

Laboratory Technician, Department of Ocean, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA; July 1998 –  January 1999                    

Participated in a ballast water project with faculty and other researchers

Conducted interviews and sampled ballast water aboard coal ships

Utilized tritiated leucine incorporation to investigate the feeding ecology of groundwater protozoans for a DOE groundwater project

Laboratory Assistant, Department of Ocean, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA;   September 1996 – December 1998   

Prepared samples, reagents, and other standard solutions for analysis

Used pH meters, micro‑balances, columns and resins for trace metal analyses

Worked aboard the 150’ R/V Cape Hatteras offshore on an extended oceanographic cruise

Marine Travel-Lift Operator Hampton Boat Yard, Hampton, VA; April 1995 – August 1996

Operated a 25 ton marine travel lift

Various services to yachts for customers

Rigger/Ground man, Re-Leaf Tree Care, Gloucester, VA; August 1994 – April 1995

Responsible for all ground and line operations

Some high climbing removals and trimmings


Written and public speaking

USCG 100-Ton Inland waters license

Vessel operator mentor

Biennial training for CPR and first aid

NAUI-SCUBA certified


Differential interference contrast


Image analysis

Computer skills

  • R statistical analysis
  • ArcGIS
  • Microsoft Office Suite           
  • Blogger
  • iMovie


Various water quality Instruments (YSI)

Sensor calibration, maintenance, and data retrieval

Supply organization and inventory

Familiar Statutes and Regulations

  • Endangered Species Act
  • Magnuson-Stevens Act
  • Clean Water Act 404 (b) 1 Guidelines

Wetlands Delineation and Survey


Duffy,J.E.,  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.J. Stachowicz, J. Thormar, M.A. Whalen (2015) Biodiversity mediates top-down control in eelgrass ecosystems: A global comparative experiment. Ecology Letters.  Accepted.

Reynolds, P. L., J. P. Richardson, and J. E. Duffy (2014) Field experimental evidence that grazers mediate transition between microalgal and seagrass dominance.  Limnology and Oceanography. 59(3), 1053-1064.

Blake, R. E., J. E. Duffy, and J. P. Richardson (2014) Patterns of community response to local shoreline development. Estuaries and Coasts. 37:1549-1561.

Douglass, J. G., K. E. France, J. P. Richardson, and J. E. Duffy (2010) Seasonal and interannual change in a Chesapeake Bay eelgrass community: insights into biotic and abiotic control of community structure. Limnology and Oceanography, 55:1499-1520

Spivak A. C., E. A. Canuel, J. E. Duffy, J. G. Douglass and J. P. Richardson. (2009) Epifaunal community composition and nutrient levels alter sediment organic matter composition in a seagrass bed: a field experiment. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 376, 55-67

Spivak, A. C., E. A. Canuel, J. E. Duffy, and J. P. Richardson. (2009) Nutrient enrichment and food web composition affect ecosystem metabolism in an experimental seagrass habitat. PLoS ONE 4(10): e7473. [doi:10.1371/jounal.pone.0007473]

Spivak, A. C., E. A. Canuel, J. E. Duffy and J. P. Richardson. (2007) Top-down and bottom-up controls on sediment organic matter composition in an experimental seagrass ecosystem. Limnology and Oceanography, 52:6:2595-2607

Douglass, J. G., J. E. Duffy, A. C. Spivak, and J. P. Richardson (2007) Nutrient versus consumer control of community structure in a Chesapeake Bay eelgrass habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 348:71-83

Duffy, J. E., J. P. Richardson, and K. E. France (2005) Ecosystem consequences of diversity depend on food chain length in estuarine vegetation. Ecology Letters, 8:301-309

Duffy, J. E., J. P. Richardson, and E. A. Canuel (2003) Grazer diversity effects on ecosystem functioning in seagrass beds. Ecology Letters. 6:1-9

Laroussi, M., J. P. Richardson, and F. C. Dobbs (2002) Effects of nonequilibrium atmospheric pressure plasmas on the heterotrophic pathways of bacteria and on their cell morphology. Applied Physics Letters. Vol. 81, No.4

Laroussi, M., F. C. Dobbs, Z. Wei, M. A. Doblin, L. G. Ball, K. R. Moreira, F. F. Dyer, and J. P. Richardson. (2002) Decontamination of water by excimer UV radiation.  IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. Vol. 30, No. 4

Selected Presentations
Richardson, J.P., R. J. Orth, S. J. Marion and F. C. Holbert (2015) Shifting baselines in the distribution paterns of two submergd angiosperms in the Chesapeake Bay. Benthic Ecology Meeting. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (oral presentation)
Richardson, J.P., J. S. Lefcheck, S. L. Ziegler, J. E. Duffy (2014) Size structure drivers of crustacean grazer epifauna in a Chesapeake Bay Zostera marina bed. Benthic Ecology Meeting. UNF, Jacksonville, FL (oral presentation)
Richardson, J. P., J. E. Duffy, P. L. Reynolds (2012) Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN) A global approach to experimental seagrass ecology. Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland (oral presentation)
Richardson, J. P. (2012) Fishes of the York River, Discovery Lab Series, Guest Speaker, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. VIMS, VA (oral presentation)
Richardson, J. P., L. Canuel, J. E. Duffy, E. Ferer, P. Littreal,  M. Mainor (2011) Algae based bioremediation of the Chesapeake Bay and a possible feedstock for biofuel. Presentation at: Benthic Ecology Meeting. Mobile, AL (poster presentation)
Richardson, J. P., J. G. Douglass, R. E. Blake, K. E. France, and J. E. Duffy. (2007) Mass mortality of eelgrass in Chesapeake Bay, 2005: An assessment of community recovery. Presentation at: Benthic Ecology Meeting. Atlanta, GA (oral presentation)
Richardson, J. P., M. Laroussi, and F. C. Dobbs. (2000) The effect of atmospheric pressure plasma on bacteria. Presentation at: Virginia Branch, American Society for Microbiology Meeting, Farmville, VA (oral presentation)
Richardson, J. P., (1999) The fate of Vibrio cholerae O139 associated with Acartia tonsa and Rhodomonas under simulated ballast tank conditions.  Presentation of research results to the SERC  community (oral presentation)
Community Service and Awards
2014 Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN): Conference organizer, Natural History Museum, Smithsonian, Washington, DC
2014, 2015 Science Fair Judge, Environmental Science, York County Virginia
2012 Guest speaker at the “Fishes of the York River” Discovery Lab for CBNERR
VIMS Photo contest: 2nd place 2011, 3rd place 2010, honorable mention 2009
2011 Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN): Leadership roll in a large collaborative synoptic field experiment with 14 research groups from around the Northern Hemisphere
2011 and 2013 led an instructive field expedition for Dr. Jen Rhode’s marine biology class in the lower Chesapeake Bay.  Coordinated the deployment of three vessels with operators to transport the UNC-Asheville students to the field for sampling and instruction
2008 Conducted a teacher’s workshop for 15 high school science teachers that included intensive field and lab experience and data analysis of the communities of an eelgrass bed at the Goodwin Island Nature Reserve
2007 VIMS Mentor for Research Experience for Undergraduates Intern, Diana W. Chin (Boston University) Topic: Effects of emigration and predation pressure on grazers in seagrass mesocosms
2004 – 2013, Annual participant in VIMS Marine Science Day. Exhibit leader for “Secretive Seagrass Creatures” with multiple hands-on activities
2005 and 2006 Delivered presentations on climate change and biodiversity to Ms. Babbette Zado’s environmental science students at Grafton High School (York County, VA), including a hands-on microscopic session with live invertebrates from local underwater grass beds
2002 – 2003 VIMS Mentor for The Governor’s School for Science and Technology student, Sonia Abdelaziz
2000 - 2001 OEAS Graduate Student Organization Vice President (vocational and professional) O.D.U.
2000, 2001, 2002, 2008 Volunteer at Regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl Competition (Blue Crab Bowl) for high school students
2000–2001, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Speaker’s Bureau – Deliver presentations concerning the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the mission of the CBF
2000 Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Organized the OEAS Graduate Student Organization, members to plant eel grass (Zostera marina) in the Lynnhaven River
2000 Center for Marine Conservation, Beach cleanup
1999 Clean the Bay Day, volunteer
1990 Army Achievement Medal, 1st Battalion 111th Field Artillery - Virginia National Guard