Chris  Patrick

Assistant Professor

Email: [[v|cpatrick]]
Phone: (804) 684-7399
Office: Andrews Hall 310
Department: Biological Sciences

Curriculum Vitae

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  • Ph.D. Ecology, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, 2012
  • B.S., Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, High Honors, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 2006
Research Interests

The central themes of my research are understanding two sets of processes: 1) those that control the assembly and maintenance of biological communities across space and time, and 2) those by which ecological communities deliver and maintain ecosystem functions and services. These are broad-linked themes that require integration across multiple sub-disciplines of ecological science including community ecology, landscape ecology, population genetics, ecosystem ecology, data mining, and statistical modeling. Ultimately my goal is to advance our basic theoretical understanding of how coastal and aquatic systems work and devise management recommendations based on those advances. To address these goals I work in two study systems, seagrass meadows and coastal-plain rivers.

My research on seagrass meadows is strongly integrated with my management of the Chesapeake Bay SAV Mapping Program. This decades-long program consists of annually mapping the entire areal coverage and density of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Chesapeake Bay. The datasets provide an integrated measure of Chesapeake Bay health and water quality through time. These data are a tremendous resource for addressing both theoretical and applied research questions. Using these data, I’ve led or contributed to efforts to understand a variety of questions such as the role of land-use change and shoreline alteration on SAV, the role that SAV species identity has on the SAV response to ecosystem stressors, and the role of changes nutrient loads and water quality on SAV abundance during the past 30 years. These efforts have contributed to changes in management practices such as rules for shoreline modification permitting.  Beyond my modeling work, I also am involved with field projects in the Chesapeake Bay, the Virginia Coastal Bays, the Gulf Coast, and Caribbean Sea addressing questions about how seagrass meadows deliver ecosystem services and the relative roles of herbivory and nutrient loading on seagrass productivity.

My research in coastal rivers is currently based on the Gulf Coast of Texas. I’m leading a research program funded by the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Science Foundation to understand the role of climate gradients on the structure and function of coastal rivers. My team has determined that changes in annual rainfall drive abrupt changes in the identity of benthic invertebrates and fishes in coastal rivers as well as their biomass. We’re now conducting a multi-year project consisting of field observations and experiments to understand why these changes occur and the importance of marine subsidies to the coastal river ecosystems. Ultimately, we hope to make predictions about how future climate change will impact coastal ecosystems. In addition to that broad question, my students and I are also addressing questions related to the population connectivity of amphidromous prawns and the role of climate in controlling ecosystem response to hurricanes. This last question has resulted in an NSF-funded data synthesis project to address this question across a variety of coastal ecosystems to advance our understanding of coastal resilience to hurricanes. 

Recent Publications
  • Patrick, C.J., Yeager, L., Armitage, A.R., Carvallo, F., Congdon, V., Dunton, K.H., Fisher, M., Hardison, A., Hogan, J., Hosen, J., Hu, X., Kiel Reese, B., Kinard, S., Kominoski, J., Lin, X., Liu, Z., Montagna, P.A., Pennings, S., Walker, L., Weaver, C.,Wetz, M. (accepted). A systems level analysis of hurricane impacts on a coastal region. Estuaries and Coasts
  • Orth, R.J., W.C. Dennison, C. Gurbisz, M. Hannam, J. Keisman, J.B. Landry, J.S. Lefcheck, K.A. Moore, R.R. Murphy, C.J. Patrick, J. Testa, D.E. Weller, D.J. Wilcox, R.A. Batuik (accepted). Long-term annual aerial surveys of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) support science, management, and restoration. Estuaries and Coasts
  • Patrick, C.J. (2019). Analysis of Statewide Probabilistic Data- Texas Bays & Estuaries. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Contract 582-18-80199
  • Patrick, C.J., McGarvey, D., Cross, W., Allen, D., Benke, A., Brey, T., Huryn, A., Jones, J., Murphy, C., Ruffing, C., Saffarinia, P., Whiles, M., Wallace, B., & Woodward, G. (2019). Precipitation and temperature drive global patterns in stream invertebrate secondary production. Science Advances 5: eaav2348
  • Tiegs et al. The CELLDEX Consortium (2018). Global patterns and drivers of ecosystem functioning in rivers and riparian zones. Science Advances 5(1): eaav0486
  • Patrick, C.J. & Yuan, L.L. (2018). The challenge of spatial context for community ecology across scales. Oikos – Forum Article. 128: 297-308
  • Lefcheck, J.S., Orth, J.J., W.C., Gurbisz, C., Hannam, H., Keisman, J., Landry, J.B., Moore, K.A., Murphy, R.R., Patrick, C.J., Testa, J., Weller, D.E., & Wilcox, D.J. (2017). Nutrient reductions lead to unprecedented recovery of a temperate coastal ecosystem. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 115(14): 3658-2662
  • Patrick, C.J. & Brown, B.L. (2018). The role of functional diversity of the regional species pool in determining stream invertebrate β-richness for a watershed. American Naturalist. 191(5): E159-170
  • Orth, J.J., Dennison, W.C., Lefcheck, J.S., Gurbisz, C., Hannam, H., Keisman, J., Landry, J.B., Moore, K.A., Murphy, R.R., Patrick, C.J., Testa, J., Weller, D.E., & Wilcox, D.J. (2017). Submersed aquatic vegetation in Chesapeake Bay: sentinel species in a changing world. Bioscience 67(8): 698-712
  • Patrick, C.J. & Yuan, L.L. (2017). Modeling hydrologic metrics to demonstrate linkages between hydrologic alteration and stream assemblages. Ecological Applications 27(5): 1605-1617
Additional publications available in curriculum vitate.
Current Projects
  • Chesapeake Bay Seagrass Mapping Program. Ongoing. Funded by EPA, VA DEQ, VA State Legislature, MD MDE, MD DNR
  • Moving Upstream: Quantifying materials flow between estuaries and coastal rivers. 2020-2022. Funded by National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine
  • MarineGEO Texas Biodiversity Assessment, 2019-2020. Funded by Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program
  • TERRG: Thresholds in Ecosystem Responses to Rainfall Gradients. 2019 – 2023. Funded by NSF Ecosystem Science Cluster
  • Teleconnections Among Great Plains NEON Sites by Wind and Wing. 2019 – 2024. Funded by NSF Macrosystems & Early NEON Science
  • Ecosystem Responses to Hurricanes Synthesis Workshop. 2018 – 2020. Funded by NSF Ecosystem Science Cluster and LTER Program
  • National Academy of Science, Engineering, & Medicine Gulf Research Fellow, 2018-2020. Funded by National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine
  • Measuring the response of stream communities to Hurricane Harvey across a semi-arid to sub-humid gradient. 2017 – 2020. Funded by NSF Population & Community Ecology Cluster