Staff Profile

Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser

Preferred Name: Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser




Phone: 508 289 3713

Office: REDFIELD 120 

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,   Mail Stop 34
266 Woods Hole Road
Woods Hole, MA 02543



Ph.D., Biology, University of Oregon, 2016

B.S., Zoology, Northern Michigan University, 2011

Research Statement

Most of the ocean floor is blanketed by soft sediments, so hard-bottom habitats are usually isolated and island-like. Any solid object – be it a reef, a lone rock, or a shipwreck – will inevitably be colonized, and these substrata provide habitats for diverse and abundant communities of sponges, anemones, crabs, mussels, and fish. As a benthic ecologist, I study the colonization and connectivity of island-like hard-bottom habitats.

My research focuses on the early life-history stages of invertebrates, including larval dispersal and recruitment. The larval phase is the only opportunity for sessile organisms to spread to or colonize new environments, but larvae and new recruits suffer high mortality because of environmental stress and predation. I seek to understand how these restrictions affect the connectivity of populations and what factors might allow some larvae to disperse farther than others. I work at all depths from the intertidal to the deep sea and I have ongoing projects at polar, temperate, and tropical latitudes.

In order to collect samples and conduct experiments, I embark on frequent expeditions to the field. I use SCUBA and small boats to reach near-shore habitats and participate in oceanographic expeditions on larger research ships to sample off-shore or deep-sea habitats with remotely operated vehicles. Much of my work involves collection of high-resolution imagery – either video or photos – from the seafloor, and so image analysis is a staple of my research. I travel frequently, both domestically and internationally, and have ongoing projects in the Fram Strait (Arctic), Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (off of Massachusetts), and Palau (western Pacific).

Research Interests

Marine benthic ecology, Arctic biology, larval biology, deep-sea biology, invertebrate zoology