Linda Schaffner homepage

Linda C. Schaffner

Associate Dean of Academic Studies; Professor

Email: [[linda]]
Phone (Associate Dean): (804) 684-7105
Phone (Research Office): (804) 684-7366
Office: Watermen's Hall 246 (Associate Dean), Andrews Hall 114 (Research)
Department: Biological Sciences
Unit: Office of Academic Studies and Biological Sciences
Additional websites: {{, Shallow Water Website}} {{, REU - Summer Intern Program}} {{, Hall-Bonner Scholars Program}}
Interests: Benthic ecology, estuarine food webs; invertebrate ecology and behavior.

  • B.A., Drew University
  • M.A., Ph.D., College of William and Mary

Note: Due to my administrative obligations as Associate Dean of Academic Studies I am no longer accepting graduate students or serving on student committees.  I continue to teach MSCI 507 - Responsible Conduct of Research and co-teach MSCI 650 - Estuarine Ecology (with Dr. Mark Brush).

Research Interests

I am a broadly trained marine and estuarine ecologist, who has conducted research on continental shelf and estuarine ecosystems in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. During my 25-year research career, I studied how physical processes, dead zones, and climate change regulate biodiversity and productivity of marine and estuarine communities, marine food webs, and processes such as nutrient cycling, sediment transport and the fate of pollutants with my students and other colleagues. My graduate students have gone on to successful careers in academia, government and the private sector.

As an associate dean, I provide stewardship of VIMS' broad educational mission and administrative oversight of the School of Marine Science graduate program. I am dedicated to maintaining an inclusive education environment where we recognize potential and cultivate the student, and to providing VIMS students with the education and skills they need to keep the ocean science workforce strong.  

Recent Projects
Recent Publications (last 5 years)
  • Schaffner, L.C. 2010. Patterns and rates of recovery of macrobenthic communities in a polyhaline temperate estuary following sediment disturbance: Effects of disturbance severity and potential importance of non-local processes. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 1300-1313. (DOI: 10.1007/s12237-010-9301-6).
  • Teixeira, H., Borja, Á, Weisberg, S.B., J. A. Ranasinghe, D. B. Cadien, D. M. Dauer, J.-C. Dauvin, S. Degraer, R. J. Diaz, A. Grémare, I. Karakassis, R. J. Llansó, L. L. Lovell, J. C. Marques, D. E. Montagne, A. Occhipinti-Ambrogi, R. Rosenberg, R. Sardá, L. C. Schaffner and R. G. Velarde. 2010.  Assessing coastal benthic macrofauna community condition using best professional judgement – Developing consensus across North America and Europe. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60: 589-600.
  • Dickhudt, P.J., C.T. Friedrichs, L.C. Schaffner and L.P. Sanford. 2009. Spatial and temporal variation in cohesive sediment erodibility in the York River estuary: a biologically-influenced equilibrium modified by seasonal deposition. Marine Geology, 267: 128-140.
  • Gillett, D.J. and L.C. Schaffner. 2009. Benthos of the York River. Journal of Coastal Research (Special Paper 57): 80-98.
  • Borja, A., D. Dauer, R. Díaz, R.J. Llansó, I. Muxika, J.G. Rodríguez, and L.C. Schaffner. 2008. Assessing estuarine benthic quality conditions in Chesapeake Bay: a comparison of three indices. Ecological Indicators 8: 395-403.
  • Day, J. W., R. R. Christian, D. M. Boesch, A. Yáñez-Arancibia, J. Morris, R R.  Twilley, L. Naylor, L.C. Schaffner, C. Stevenson, and H. Haas. 2008. Consequences of climate change on ecogeomorphology of estuarine wetlands.  Estuaries and Coasts 31:477-491.
  • Pomeroy, L.G., C. D’Elia and L.C. Schaffner. 2007. Top-down control of phytoplankton by oysters in Chesapeake Bay, USA: Reply to Newell at al. (2007).  Marine Ecology Progress Series 341: 299-301.
  • Pomeroy, L. G., C. D’Elia and L.C. Schaffner. 2006. Limits to top-down control of phytoplankton by oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 325: 301-309.
  • Lim, Hyun-Sig, R.J. Diaz, Hong, Jae-Sang and L.C. Schaffner. 2006. Hypoxia and benthic community recovery in Korean coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52: 1517-1526.
  • Hinchey, E.K., L.C. Schaffner, L. Batte, C. Hoar and B. Vogt. 2006. Effects of sediment burial on juvenile and adult benthic invertebrates of estuaries. Hydrobiologia 556:1-14.
Other Representative Publications
  • Schaffner, L.C. C. T. Friedrichs and D. Dauer. 2002. Review of the Benthic Process Model With Recommendations for Future Modeling Efforts. Report to the US EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, Modeling Subcommittee (pdf)
  • Sagasti, A., L.C. Schaffner and J. E. Duffy. 2001. Effects of periodic hypoxia on mortality, feeding and predation in an estuarine epifaunal community. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 258: 257-283.
  • Thompson, M. L. and L.C. Schaffner. 2001. Population biology and secondary production of the suspension feeding polychaete Chaetopterus cf. variopedatus: implications for benthic-pelagic coupling in lower Chesapeake Bay. Limnology and Oceanography 46: 1899-1907.
  • Dellapenna, T. M., S. A. Kuehl and L.C. Schaffner. 1998 Seabed mixing and particle residence times in biologically and physically dominated estuarine systems: a comparison of lower Chesapeake Bay and the York River subestuary. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 46: 777-795.
  • Weisburg, S. B., J. A. Ranasinghe, D. M. Dauer, L.C. Schaffner, R. J. Diaz and J. B. Frithsen. 1997. An estuarine benthic index of biotic integrity (B-IBI) for Chesapeake Bay.  Estuaries 20: 149-158.
  • Schaffner, L.C., R. M. Dickhut, S. Mitra and P. W. Lay. 1997. Effects of physical chemistry and bioturbation by estuarine macrofauna on the transport of hydrophobic organic contaminants in the benthos. Environ. Sci. Technol. 31: 3120-3125.
  • Mayer, M. M., L.C. Schaffner and W. M. Kemp. 1995. Nitrification potentials of benthic macrofaunal tubes and burrow walls: effects of sediment NH4+ and animal irrigation behavior. Marine Ecology Progress Series 121: 157-169.
  • Pihl, L., S. P. Baden, R. J. Diaz and L.C. Schaffner. 1992. Hypoxia-induced changes in the diet of bottom feeding fish and Crustacea. Marine Biology 112:349-361.
  • Schaffner, L.C. 1990. Small-scale organism distributions and patterns of species diversity: evidence for positive interactions in an estuarine benthic community. Marine Ecology Prog. Ser. 61: 107-117.
Past Students and Post-docs

Graduate Program and Post-Doc

  • Itchika Sivaipram, Ph.D.  Settlement processes of estuarine decapods.
  • David Gillett, Ph.D. 2003-2010. The influence of habitat degradation on benthic secondary production and trophic transfer efficiency in shallow, unvegetated areas.
  • Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, Ph.D. 2002. Physical disturbance effects on benthic community structure and function along an estuarine gradient. Recipient of Craig Smith Award (1999), Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Science (2001) and Thatcher Prize (2003)
  • Michelle Horvath, M.S. 1997. Effects of epibenthic predators and macrofauna on sediment resuspension and bioturbation.
  • Matthew Freedman, M.S. Benthic ecology of tidal freshwater habitats.
  • Susan Kane-Driscoll, Post-doc. 1995-97. Toxicokinetics of sediment-associated pollutants.
  • Patrick Lay, Ph.D.  1996. Direct effects of macrofauna on transport of organic contaminants to demersal fish.
  • William Metcalfe, M.S. 2005. Meiofauna abundance and distribution in Chesapeake Bay: Relationships with eutrophication, sediment toxicity and macrofauna.
  • Alessandra Sagasti, Ph.D. 2000. Ecology of fouling communities in the York River ecosystem: interacting effects of environmental variation and biotic interactions on community structure and function. Recipient of John and Marilyn Zeigler Student Achievement Award (1999) and Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Marine Science (1999) and Best Ph.D. Oral Presentation, Atlantic Estuarine Research Society (co-advisor with Emmett Duffy)
  • Michelle L. Thompson Neubauer, Ph.D. 2000. Benthic-pelagic coupling in lower Chesapeake Bay: effects of a benthic suspension feeding polychaete, Chaetopterus pergamentaceus (Chaetopterus cf. variopedatus, sensu Enders 1909). Recipient  of Mathew Fontaine Maury Student Fellowship Award (1999) and Best Student Poster Award, International Estuarine Research Federation Conference '99, New Orleans, LA
  • Rochelle Seitz, M.S. 1991. Population biology of the polychaete Loimia medusa (Savigny) on a tidal sand flat of the York River.
  • Bruce Vogt, M.S. 2003. Sublethal effects of sediment-associated contaminants on the burrowing behavior of the amphipod, Leptocheirus plumulosus

 Undergraduate Program/High School

  • Courtney Wickel, Department of Biology, The College of William and Mary, 2009-2011
  • Lauren Batte, Department of Biology, The College of William and Mary, B.S. with High Honors, 2001.
  • Undergraduates who have done internships in my laboratory: William O'Connell (1989), Doug Gantt (1990), Sharon Williams (1991), Michelle Rudoy and George Anderson (1992), Rebecca Born (1993), Simone Brooks (1994), Sam Jones and Charles Shimooka (1995), Alvaro Dompe (1996), Jennifer Lindsey and Allison Castellan (1998), Tara Spitzer and Scott Lundin (1999), Stephanie Babb and Christine Tallamy (2000), Patrice Longshaw and Barbara Garcia (2001), Theresa Childress (2002), Andria Salas (2006), Laura Mulvey (2007), William Allen (2009)
  • High School students who have done internships in my laboratory in recent years: Jennifer Shontz (1998-99), Benjamin Ritter (1997-98), Kelly Dorgan (1995-97)
Service on Graduate Student Committees


  • Adams, Aaron (1991-93)
  • Addington, Lisa (2004-05)
  • Armbrust, Bruce (1994-95)
  • Beaver, Aaron (2004-06)
  • Bradley, Cassie (2009-12)
  • Campbell, Jessie (2003-05)
  • Cochran, Michelle (1992-94)
  • Collumb, Chris (1992-96)
  • Cutter, G. Randy (1994-97)
  • Dickhudt, Patrick (2006-09)
  • Fishman, Jamie (1992-94)
  • French, Gail (2000-01)
  • Gustafson, Kurt (1991-93)
  • Hinchey, Elizabeth (1993-96)
  • Kniskern, Tara (1999-01)
  • Linden, Deborah (1989-90)
  • Ma, Yanxia. (2005-09)
  • McKenney, Amanda (1994-97)
  • Moriarty, Julia (2009- 12)
  • Neubauer, R. Joe (1987-93)
  • Rinehimer, J. Paul (2005-09)
  • Rodriguez, Cielomar (2007-10)
  • Romine, Heidi (2002-04)
  • Salisbury, Stephanie (2009-12)
  • Smith, Angela (1993-96)
  • Thompson, Michelle (1989-93)
  • Wagner, C. Mike (1995-97)
  • Watson, Kelly (2001)
  • Wooden, Erik  (1993-99)


  • Chisholm, Tom (1993-99)
  • Cicchetti, Giancarlo (1994-98)
  • Deberry, Doug (2003-06)
  • Dellapenna, Tim (1995-99)
  • Kim, Baeck Oon (1992-96)
  • Kniskern, Tara (2001- 07)
  • Kraatz, Lindsay (2007-12)
  • Lefcheck, Jon (2009-15)
  • Mayer, Marilyn (1989-92; Univ. of Maryland)
  • Mitra, Sid (1993-97)
  • Parker, Frank  (2002)
  • Seitz, Rochelle (1992-96)
  • Schultz, Gary (1995-99)
  • Trembanis, Art (2000-04)
  • Van den Hurk, Peter (1994-98)
  • Walker, Shelby (1999-03)
Courses Taught
  • MS 502: Coastal and Estuarine Processes and Issues
  • MS 503: Biological Oceanography
  • MS 507: Responsible Conduct of Research
  • MS 572: Estuarine Benthic Processes
  • MS 510: Marine and Freshwater Invertebrates
  • MS 647: Marine Benthos
  • MS 650: Estuarine Ecology
  • MS 698: Special Topics - History of Benthic Ecology
  • MS 698: Special Topics - Coastal Issues, Science and Policy of Thailand
  • MS 698: Special Topics - Global Coastal Change
  • 2007 - Estuarine Research Federation Distinguished Service Award
  • 2005 - Dean's Prize for Advancement of Women in Science
  • 2003 - Outstanding Faculty Award, State Council of Higher Education of Virginia
  • 2001 - The Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award, College of William and Mary
  • 1994 - Outstanding Teaching Award, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary
Positions of Distinction
  • President, Estuarine Research Federation (2003-2005), Past President (2005-07), President-Elect (2001-03)
  • Secretary, Council of Scientific Society Presidents (2004-2005)
  • Estuarine Research Federation Governing Board, Secretary (1999-2001), Member-at-Large (1997-1999)
  • Estuarine Research Federation Education Committee (1997-2007)
  • Associate Editor, Estuaries, 1998-2001
Professional Memberships
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
  • Atlantic Estuarine Research Society (AERS)
  • Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF)
  • Estuarine & Coastal Sciences Association (ECSA)