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Griffen at Odiorne Point, NH

Blaine D. Griffen, PhD
Associate Professor
McCausland Faculty Fellow

Biological Sciences and the
Marine Sciences Program
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208

Ph: 803-603-9532

PhD – University of New Hampshire (2007)

MS – Marine Resource Management, Oregon State University (2002)

BS - Zoology, Brigham Young University (1998)



My current research is generally focused on two main areas that frequently overlap. First, I am interested in the causes and consequences of individual variation within populations, including morphological, behavioral, physiological, and genetic variation. Second, I study the responses of natural systems to human impacts such as climate change, species invasion, habitat destruction, fishing pressure, and pollution. I am particularly interested in how these activities influence biodiversity within species (i.e., the diversity of functional traits seen within species). The overarching goal of my research is to improve our ability to predict the responses of populations and communities to future human impacts. I generally take a bottom up mechanistic approach, determining how morphology, behavior, physiology, and genetics facilitate or constrain the responses of individuals to environmental change, and how those individual level responses then scale up to establish patterns and processes at the population and community levels.  I do this using a variety of approaches, including field observations, field and laboratory experiments, physiological measurements, and computer simulation modeling.

While addressing questions of environmental change described above, my research simultaneously provides insight into fundamental aspects of organismal biology and physiology and into consumer foraging that is central to all ecological communities. Finally, my research also addresses areas where results can be applied to enhance management and conservation efforts. Most of my research has focused on crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, Daphnia) as model organisms. Crustaceans provide a good study system for several reasons - they are important consumers in many ecological communities and are becoming even more important in many systems as a result of environmental change, they are a highly invasive group of organisms worldwide, they possess several biological features that are very useful experimentally, and because they're just really cool!

Important notice for potential students: I am always looking for good students to join my lab. Interested students should e-mail me to discuss opportunities and whether my lab would be a good place for you.

What's new in my lab?
  • A new paper by Cannizzo and Griffen 2016 in Animal Behaviour examines changes to spatial habitat use behavior of the mangrove tree crab following its climate-induced range expansion into salt marshes.
  • Congratulations to Eilea Knotts who graduated with her Masters! She worked on individual personality and its role in herding in fiddler crabs. See the link to her work below.
  • Welcome to Eric Hancock who joins the lab as a new Masters student. Eric worked in the lab as an undergrad and has already completed some interesting research on the physiological impacts of claw loss in commercially fished Florida stone crabs.
  • A new paper by Belgrad and Griffen 2016 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B examines the fitness consequences of individual personality in terms of survival in the face of predators with different foraging strategies.
  • A new paper by Griffen 2016 in Ecology and Evolution examines the population level impacts of interactions between invasive species.
  • A new paper by Knots and Griffen 2016 in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology demonstrates that personality influences the spatial positioning of individuals within fiddler crab herds, but demonstrates that positioning can arise simply because of differences in movement rates and does not depend on individual choice.
  • A new paper from our lab group (Griffen et al. 2016) in Marine Ecology Progress Series takes a critical look at multiple stressor studies and what we can change to make these studies more effective.
  • A new paper by Belgrad and Griffen 2016 in PLOS One examines how diet influences the fitness of commercially harvested blue crabs.


Website updated 3/15/2016

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