Deron Burkepile

Associate Professor
(805) 893-3067
MSI 4312


I received my B.A. in Biology from the University of Mississippi in 1999 where I studied marine natural products chemistry and chemical ecology. In 2006, I received my Ph.D. from Georgia Tech under the direction of Mark Hay with a dissertation focused on the interactive roles of herbivores and productivity in structuring coral reef communities. After my Ph.D., I spent two years as the Brown Post-doctoral Fellow in Melinda Smith's lab at Yale University where I worked on the interactions of herbivory, fire, and productivity in driving the ecology of African savannas. I was an Assistant Professor at Florida International University 2008-2015 before moving to UC Santa Barbara.


The Burkepile Lab focuses on questions that provide fundamental understanding about the ecology of communities and ecosystems while also informing the conservation and restoration of these systems. Four themes define our lab’s current work: (1) how exploitation of consumers and loss of consumer biodiversity impacts ecosystem function, (2) how predation risk affects herbivore distribution and their impact on plant communities, (3) how anthropogenic and consumer-derived nutrients impacts community dynamics and disease, and (4) how global change alters consumer-prey interactions. Many of these themes span both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, although coral reefs are our main focus. Our most productive research occurs when these themes interact to address how multiple anthropogenic forces impact community dynamics and ecosystem function.

Selected Publications

  • Catano, L.B. , M.C. Rojas, R.J. Malossi, J.R. Peters, M.R. Heithaus, J.W. Fourqurean, and D.E. Burkepile (In Press) Reefscapes of fear: predation risk and reef heterogeneity interact to shape herbivore foraging behavior. Journal of Animal Ecology
  • Adam. T.C., M. Kelley, B.I Ruttenberg, and D.E. Burkepile (In Press) Resource partitioning along multiple niche axes drives functional diversity in parrotfishes on Caribbean coral reefs. Oecologia
  • Shantz, A.A. , M. Ladd, E. Shrack, and D.E. Burkepile (In Press) Fish-derived nutrient hotspots shape coral reef benthic communities. Ecological Applications doi: 10.1890/14-2209.1
  • Adam, T.C., D.E. Burkepile, B.I. Ruttenberg, and M.J. Paddack. (2015) Herbivory and the resilience of Caribbean coral reefs: knowledge gaps and implications for management. Marine Ecology Progress Series 520:1-20. doi: 10.3354/meps11170
  • Shantz, A.A. and D.E. Burkepile. (2014) Context-dependent effects of nutrient enrichment on coral growth: a meta-analysis. Ecology 95:1995-2005. doi: 10.1890/13-1407.1
  • Koerner, S.E., D.E. Burkepile, R.W.S. Fynn, C.E. Burns, S. Eby, N. Hagenah, K. Matchett, D.I. Thompson, K.R. Wilcox, S.L. Collins, N. Govender, K.P. Kirkman, A.K. Knapp, and M.D. Smith (2014) Plant community response to loss of a key disturbance differs between North American and South African savanna grasslands. Ecology 95:808-816 doi: 10.1890/13-1828.1
  • Vega Thurber, R., D.E. Burkepile, C.E. Fuchs, A.A. Shantz, R. McMinds, and J. Zaneveld. (2014) Chronic nutrient enrichment increases the prevalence coral disease and coral bleaching. Global Change Biology 20:544-554 doi: 10.1111/gcb.12450
  • Burkepile, D.E., C.E. Burns, C.J. Tambling, E. Amendola, G.M. Buis, N. Govender, V. Nelson, D.I. Thompson, A.D. Zinn, and M.D. Smith. (2013) Habitat selection by large herbivores in a southern African savanna: the role of bottom-up and top-down forces. Ecosphere 4:art139
  • Burkepile, D.E., J. Allgeier, A. Shantz, C.E. Pritchard, N. Lemoine, L. Bhatti, C.A. Layman. (2013) Carnivorous fishes as vectors of nutrients on coral reefs: the role of nutrient supply in facilitating seaweed abundance. Scientific Reports 3:1493 doi:10.1039/srep01493
  • Burkepile, D.E. (2013) Comparing aquatic and terrestrial grazing ecosystems: is the grass really greener? Oikos 122:306-312 doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2012.20716.x
  • Burkepile, D.E. and M.E. Hay. (2008) Herbivore species richness and feeding complementarity affect community structure and function on a coral reef. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:16201-16206. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801946105
  • Burkepile, D.E. and M.E. Hay. (2006) Herbivore vs. nutrient control of marine primary producers: context-dependent effects. Ecology 87:3128-3139. doi: 10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[3128:HVNCOM]2.0.CO;2
  • Parker, J.D., D.E. Burkepile, and M.E. Hay. (2006) Opposing effects of native and exotic herbivores on plant invasions. Science 311:1459-1461. doi: 10.1126/science.1121407

External Publication List

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