I teach General Biology (Biol 101 and Biol 102) and Special Topics courses in Invasive Species and Community Ecology.
My current research interests include:
- long-term patterns of invasion and understanding ecological resilience in ecosystems;
- impacts of invasive epibionts (organisms that overgrow other organisms) on basibiont (the organism being overgrown) biology, including stress responses (i.e. heart rate, scope for growth);
- the role of invasive epibionts in communities, with a focus on predator-prey dynamics and invasional meltdown.
You can learn more about my research at ResearchGate.
How did I get interested in my current research?
As an undergrad, I went to Long Island University to study Marine Science, with a concentration in Biology. At this time, I got my first taste of research as an intern at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Milford, CT. This experience solidified my interest in marine biology. While there, I observed adult tautog, a native fish species, feeding on the invasive Asian Shore Crab, and this began my interest in invasive species and their impacts. A couple years later, I started my graduate education at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography in the Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory (MERL). While there, I studied the biology and distribution of an invasive colonial ascidian Didemnum vexillum, an organism now found in many parts of the world. When I started studying this animal, very little was known about it because stakeholders and scientists were just becoming aware about its potential impacts on native mussels . My fascination with this organism (and its habit of overgrowing shellfish) led to my continued studies as a Ph.D. student at the University of New Hampshire. My dissertation work focused on the impacts of D. vexillum on the biology and ecological relationships of the native blue mussel Mytilius edulis. After graduate school, I taught for four years at Siena College in Albany, NY, where I also conducted research with students that focuses on invasive species in marine and freshwater environments. Courses taught at Siena included General Biology, Invertebrate Biology, General Ecology, and Scientific Writing.
I welcome (and encourage) undergraduates interested in marine biology and/or invasive species to work with me on independent research projects for credit or as a SLU Fellow/MacNair/CSTEP Fellow.
Outside of my duties and research at SLU, I have lots of interests, including archery, hiking, camping, photography, gardening, painting and sketching, cooking, quilting and soap making.
- Invasive species, epibiosis, marine ecology, invertebrate biology
Presentations, Exhibitions, Performances and Published Work:
- Auker, L.A. In Press. A decade of invasion: changes in the distribution of Didemnum vexillum in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, USA, between 2005 and 2015. BioInvasion Records
- Auker, L.A., A.L. Majkut, and L.G. Harris. 2014. Exploring biotic impacts from Carcinus maenas predation and Didemnum vexillum epibiosis on Mytilus edulus in the Gulf of Maine. Northeastern Naturalist. 21(3): 479-494.
- Auker, L.A. and C.A. Oviatt. 2008. Factors influencing the recruitment and abundance of Didemnum in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. ICES Journal of Marine Science 65(5): 765-769.
- Clark, P.E., J.J. Pereira, L.A. Auker, C.J. Parkins, and L.M. Vinokur. 2006. Size-related variation in the diet of juvenile tautogs from Long Island Sound. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135: 1361-1370
Regularly Taught Courses:
- Biol 101, Biol 102
- Community Ecology
- Invasive Species