Evolutionary Ecology

The Krueger-Hadfield lab at the VIMS-Eastern Shore Laboratory, Wachapreague, Virginia

  • Images of organisms studied in the Krueger-Hadfield lab.     SA Krueger-Hadfield
  • Diopatra tube & Gracilaria   We have used the invasion of the red seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla as a way to understand sexual reproduction. Along the Delmarva, Gracilaria is often found anchored to the tubes of a worm (Diopatra cuprea).   SA Krueger-Hadfield
  • Aerial view of Gracilaria monitoring site   Aerial survey of one of our sites located near VIMS ESL where we have worked on the Gracilaria invasion since 2014. This is one of our sites that is part of the Ecological Monitoring Program.   PG Ross
  • Sampling algae at dawn at Cape Charles Beach.     SA Krueger-Hadfield
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The VIMS Eastern Shore Lab is now the home base for the Krueger-Hadfield Evolutionary Ecology lab. We integrate approaches from population genetics, physiology, and population and community ecology in marine, freshwater, and alpine micro- and macroalgae, with the occasional invertebrate thrown in, to resolve one of the great paradoxes in biology – the evolution of sex. The central thread of our research has direct implications for understanding biodiversity, transcending taxonomic designations. 

All organisms pass through different stages in their life cycle because of sex. These stages often differ profoundly in the number of cells and the arrangement of genetic information due to three processes that make up what we mean by sexual reproduction: meiosis (reduction), recombination (rearrangement), and fertilization (addition). When, where, and how these phases alternate is affected by genetic and phenotypic factors. By focusing on the stages and phases an organisms passes through (its life cycle), we can compare diverse taxa from apicomplexans to oysters to algae. Understanding these factors can help us understand the maintenance of biodiversity. 

While theory predicts how sex evolves, there remains a dearth of empirical work confirming these predictions in nature. Marine macroalgae – our focal organismal group – are emerging commodities in the blue bioeconomy. Yet, we lack basic macroalgal biological knowledge, often readily available in other organisms of ecological or economic importance. This is compounded by the absence of macroalgal expertise in soft sediment habitats as compared to rocky shores – an acute issue in the Chesapeake where the last macroalgal species list was published more than 40 years ago. These gaps restrict the responsible development and management of algal resources, but also exacerbate our ability to forecast the consequences of climate change in important primary producers in this region.

Krueger-Hadfield lab members have been visiting the Eastern Shore since 2014. In addition to scientific publications, we have also contributed to the Ecological Monitoring Program.

To learn more about our research, visit the Krueger-Hadfield lab webpage

Our publications can be found here

For questions email Dr. Krueger-Hadfield at or call 757.787.8105. 

If you are a student interested in working with Dr. Krueger-Hadfield, send an email to Please include your CV, a statement of why you are interested in becoming a member of our research program, and a writing sample. The CV should include research experience, work experience (even if outside of a university setting), undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) GPA, and any publications. The statement of interest should clearly articulate how your career goals and interests align with the Krueger-Hadfield lab. The writing sample could be a publication (please explain how you contributed to the writing) or an assignment from a course you have taken.