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Brent B. Hughes

Associate Professor

Brent Hughes
Brent B. Hughes




Darwin Hall 219

Office Hours

Wed: 10:00 am-12:00 pm

Google Scholar Site

B.A. Truman State University (2001) 
M.S. Marine Science, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (2007)  
Ph.D. University of California Santa Cruz (2014) 

Postdoctoral Experience:   
David H. Smith Research Conservation Fellow - Duke University (2015-2017), University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs Postdoctoral Fellow (2018), UC Santa Santa Cruz (2015)

Research Interests:   
Community Ecology, Marine Ecology, Conservation, Coastal Ecosystems, Food Webs

Research Program:   
Research in my lab seeks to determine the processes that affect the stability of coastal ecosystems. My research centers around coastal habitats – seagrass, salt marsh, and kelp (aka foundation species) – which provide valuable ecosystem services, yet are threatened by human activities. Currently my research focuses on four themes: 1) the consequences of predator recovery on the functioning and stability of ecosystems, 2) the relative influence of climatic drivers and anthropogenic threats of coastal ecosystems, 3) the role of foundation species in structuring nearshore diversity and functioning and in turn the drivers maintaining foundation species stability, and 4) informing management and restoration on the processes that drive ecosystem resilience.

Course Offerings:   
BIOL 333 - Ecology   
BIOL 335 - Marine Ecology   
BIOL 497 - Biological Statistics in R

Selected Publications & Presentations

(*Undergraduate Researcher, ^Graduate Student Researcher #Citizen Scientist)


28. Anderson S.C., P.R. Elsen, B.B. Hughes, R.K. Tonietto, M.C. Bletz, D.A. Gill, M.A. Holgerson, S.E. Kuebbing, C. McDonough MacKenzie, M.H. Meek, D. Verissimo. Trends in ecology over eight decades. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. In press.

27. Raymond W.W.^, Hughes B.B., Stephens T.A., Mattson C.*, Bolwerk A.^, Eckert G.L. 2021. Testing the generality of sea otter-mediated trophic cascades in seagrass meadows. Oikos. In press. doi: 10.1111/oik.07681.


26. Hughes, B.B., *B.A. Ali, *N.N. Noor, *S.G. Soto, M.N. Dethier. 2020. Native and invasive macrophytes differ in their effectiveness as nurseries for juvenile endangered salmon. Estuaries and Coasts: Special Issue in Memory of Susan Williams. In press. 

25. ^Grimes, T.M., M.T. Tinker, B.B. Hughes, K.E. Boyer, L. Needles, ^K. Beheshti, R.L. Lewison. 2020. Characterizing the impact of recovering sea otters on commercially important crab in California estuaries. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 655:123-137. 

24. Anderson, S.C., P.R. Elsen, B.B. Hughes, R.K. Tonietto, M.C. Bletz, D.A. Gill, M.A. Holgerson, S.E. Kuebbing, C. McDonough MacKenzie, M.H. Meek, D. Verissimo. 2020. Trends in ecology and conservation over eight decades. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. In press. 

23. Whalen, M….27 co-authors, B.B. Hughes,…39 co-authors, J.E. Duffy. 2020. Climate drives the geography of marine consumption by changing predator communities. 2020. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 45:28160-28166. 

22. ^Rudebusch, J.A., B.B. Hughes, K.E. Boyer. 2020. Assessing anthropogenic risk to southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) for reintroduction into San Francisco Bay. PeerJ. 8:e10241. 

21. Wasson, K., ^D.J. Gossard, L. Gardner, P.R. Hain, S. Fork, C.J. Zabin, S. Fork, A.D. Ridlon, J.M. Bible, A.K. Deck, B.B. Hughes. 2020. A scientific framework for conservation aquaculture: A case study of oyster restoration in central California. 2020. Biological Conservation. 250:108745.


20. Hughes, B.B., K. Wasson, M.T. Tinker, S.L. Williams, L.P. Carswell, K.E. Boyer, M.W. Beck, #R. Eby, #R. Scoles, M. Staedler, S. Espinosa, M. Hessing-Lewis, E.U. Rechsteiner, K. Beheshti, T.M. Grimes, B.H. Becker, L. Needles, J.A. Tomoleoni, J. Rudebusch, E. Hines, B.R. Silliman. Species recovery and recolonization of past habitats: lessons for science and conservation from sea otters in estuaries. PeerJ. 7e8100. #Indicates Citizen Scientist

19. Stephens, T.A., B.B. Hughes, K.J. Kroeker, M. Hessing-Lewis, Z. Monteith, M. Morris, W.W. Raymond. 2019. Between a rock and a soft place: surfgrass colonizes sediments without attachment to rock. Ecology. e02791.

18. Lefcheck, J.S., B.B. Hughes, A.J. Johnson, B. Pfirrman, D.B. Rasher, A.R. Smyth, B.L. Williams, M.W. Beck, R.J. Orth. 2019. Coastal habitats are nurseries: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Conservation Letters. 12:e12645.


17. Toft, J., S. Munsch, J. Cordell, K. Siitari, V. Hare, B. Holycross, L. DeBruyckere, C. Greene, B.B. Hughes. 2018. Impact of multiple stressors on juvenile fish in estuaries of the northeast Pacific coast. Global Change Biology. 24:2008-2020.

16. B.R. Silliman, B.B. Hughes, L.C. Gaskins, Q. He, M.T. Tinker, A. Read, J. Nifong, R. Stepp. 2018. Are the ghosts of nature past haunting conservation today? Current Biology. 28:R532-R537.

15. Hessing-Lewis, M., E. Rechsteiner, B.B. Hughes, M.T. Tinker, A. Olson, Z. Monteith, M.M. Henderson, J.C. Watson. 2018. Ecosystem features determine seagrass community response to sea otter foraging. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 134:134-144.

14. Jeppesen, R., *M. Rodriguez, *J. Rinde, J. Haskins, B.B. Hughes, L. Mehner, K. Wasson. 2016. Hypoxia increases fish mortality and reduces oyster growth in a highly eutrophic estuary. Estuaries and Coasts. 41:89-98. *Indicates Undergraduate Student Researcher.


13. Hughes, B.B., S.C. Lummis, S.C. Anderson, K.J. Kroeker. 2017. Unexpected resilience of a seagrass system exposed to global stressors. Global Change Biology. 24:224-234.

12. #Eby, R., #R.S. Scoles, B.B. Hughes, K. Wasson. 2017. Serendipity in a salt marsh: detecting frequent sea otter haul outs in a marsh ecosystem. Ecology. 98:2975-2977. #Indicates Citizen Scientist

11. Wasson, K., R. Jeppesen, C. Endris, D. Perry, A. Woolfolk, K. Beheshti, M. Rodriguez, #R. Eby, E. Watson, F. Rahman, J. Haskins, B.B. Hughes. 2017. Eutrophication decreases salt marsh resilience through proliferation of algal mats. Biological Conservation. 212:1-11. #Indicates Citizen Scientist

10. Hughes B.B., R. Beas-Luna, A. Barner, K. Brewitt, D.R. Brumbaugh, E. Cerny-Chipman, S.L. Close, K.E. Coblentz, K.L. de Nesnera, S.T. Drobnitch, J.D. Figurski, B. Focht, M. Friedman, J. Freiwald, K.K. Heady, W.N. Heady, A. Hettinger, A. Johnson, K.A. Karr, B. Mahoney, M.M. Moritsch, A.K. Osterback, J. Reimer, J. Robinson, T. Rohrer, J. Rose, M. Sabal, L.M. Segui, C. Shen, J. Sullivan, R. Zuercher, P.T. Raimondi, B.A. Menge, K. Grorud-Colvert, M. Novak, M.H. Carr. 2017. Long-term studies contribute disproportionately to ecology and policy. BioScience 63:271-281. Featured on the cover.

9. Honig, S., B. Mahoney, *J. Glanz, B.B. Hughes. 2017. Are seagrass beds indicators of anthropogenic nutrient stress in the rocky intertidal? Marine Pollution Bulletin 114:539-546. *Indicates Undergraduate Student Researcher


8. Wasson, K., B.B. Hughes, A. Chang, A. Deck, P. Dinnel, S. Dudas, M. Ferner, E. Grosholz, D. Kimbro, J. Ruesink, A. Trimble, D. Vander Schaaf, C. Zabin, D. Zacherl. 2016. Coastwide recruitment of Olympia oysters: spatial scales of synchrony and predictors of recruitment failure. Ecology 97:3503-3516.

7. Silliman, B.R., P.M. Dixon, C. Wobus, Q. He, P. Daleo, B.B. Hughes, J. Willis, M. Hester. 2016. Tipping points in marsh resilience to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Nature Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep32520.

6. Hughes, B.B., K. Hammerstrom, N. Grant, *U. Hoshijima, #R. Eby, K. Wasson. 2016. Trophic cascades on the edge: fostering seagrass resilience via a novel pathway. Oecologia 182:231-241. Featured on the cover. *Indicates Undergraduate Student Researcher, #Indicates Citizen Scientist

5. Hughes, B.B., M.D. Levey, M.C. Fountain, A.B. Carlisle, F.P. Chavez, M.G, Gleason. 2015. Climate mediates hypoxic stress on fish diversity and nursery function at the land-sea interface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112:8025-8030. Highlighted on the cover.

4. Hughes, B.B., #R. Eby, E. Van Dyke, M.T. Tinker, C. Marks, K.S. Johnson, K. Wasson. 2013. Recovery of a top predator mediates negative eutrophic effects on seagrass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110:1513-1518. Fig. 2C correction. #Indicates Citizen Scientist

3. Hughes, B.B., J. Haskins , K. Wasson, and E. Watson. 2011. Identifying factors that influence expression of eutrophication in a central California estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 439:31-43.

2. Hughes, B.B. 2010. Variable effects of a kelp foundation species on rocky intertidal diversity and species interactions in central California. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 393:90-99.

1. Hérnandez-Carmona, G., B.B. Hughes and M. Graham. 2006. Reproductive longevity of drifting kelp Macrocystis pyrifera (Phaeophyceae) in Monterey Bay, USA. Journal of Phycology 42:1199-1207.



Silliman B., B.B. Hughes, Y.S. Zhang, Q. He. 2017. Business as usual leads to underperformance in coastal restoration. In: Effective Conservation Science: Data Not Dogma. Eds. P. Kareiva, M. Marvier, B. Silliman. Ch. 27. In press. Oxford University Press.



8. Hughes, B.B. Estuarine & Wetland Ecosystems: the first steps in developing an approach to leveraging existing monitoring programs. Report to California Ocean Science Trust, Oakland, CA USA. June, 2017.

7. Hughes, B.B., C. Endris, K. Beheshti, M.T. Tinker, S.L. Williams, H.G. Greene. 2016. Enhancement of healthy coastal environments by incorporating species interactions into seagrass mitigation design. California SeaGrant Report. Project # R/HCME-18PD. 23 pp.

6. Hughes, B.B., M. Levey, J. Brown, M. Fountain, A. Carlisle, S. Litvin, W. Heady, M. Gleason, C. Greene. 2014. Nursery functions of U.S. west coast estuaries: the state of knowledge for juveniles of focal fish and invertebrate species. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 168 pp.

5. Hughes, B.B., M. Fountain, A. Carlisle, M. Levey, M. Gleason. 2012. The impacts of nutrient loading and environmental conditions on the fish assemblage and available nursery habitat in Elkhorn Slough. The Nature Conservancy.

4. Hughes, B.B., Haskins, J., Wasson, K. 2010. Assessment of the effects of nutrient loading in estuarine wetlands of the Elkhorn Slough watershed: a regional eutrophication report card. Elkhorn Slough Technical Report Series 2010:1.

3. Hughes, B.B. 2009. Synthesis for management of eutrophication issues in Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn Slough Technical Report Series 2009:1.

2. Stepehnson, M., J. Negrey, B.B. Hughes. 2009. Spatial and temporal trends of methyl mercury in California bays and harbors: A bioaccumulation approach to assess fish and water quality. California State Water Resources Control Board Technical Report.

1. Stephenson, M., W. Heim, B.B. Hughes, A. Bonnema and K. Coale. 2008. Methylmercury loading studies in Delta wetlands. CALFED Mercury Project, Task 5.3a.