Marine Sciences Programs Faculty Research news and Events Contact Us Links Home USA Home


Dr. Just Cebrian
Senior Marine Scientist III, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Professor, Department of Marine Sciences 
University of South Alabama
Ph.D.,1996, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya-UPC
Ecosystems Lab Web Site

Coastal Trophic Dynamics; Terrestrial-Aquatic Comparative Ecology; Anthropogenic Effects on Marine Communities... 

Research Interests
My research interests are centered around the controls of the magnitude and trophic fate of primary production in ecosystems. Elucidating what controls the amount and quality of food produced in ecosystems, as well as the routes followed by that food (consumption by herbivores, decomposition, export out of the community, and storage as living or detrital mass) is essential in understanding a number of important ecological roles. These roles include the system's capacity to support secondary biomass within (consumption in the system) or off (through export) the system, carbon and nutrient accumulation or release (sink vs. source), and nutrient links with neighboring systems (i.e. the system's dependence on imported nutrients).

Our field and experimental work focuses on coastal marine communities. These include phytoplanktonic communities, sediment flats (mostly inhabited by benthic microalgae), macroalgal beds, seagrass meadows, and marshes. But we also like to compare our and other marine communities with freshwater and terrestrial communities through extensive literature compilations. We thus work at different scales of integration: across marine communities, where our field and experimental work is centered; and across aquatic and terrestrial communities, where, using published data, we intend to identify trends in how carbon and nutrients cycle.

And, finally, because we all face a serious environmental crisis and need to contribute towards finding sustainable solutions, I am also interested in ascertaining how current anthropogenic perturbations, such as coastal eutrophication and increasing UV irradiance, may alter carbon and nutrient budgets in coastal ecosystems. Such studies are needed in our quest towards an understanding of how increasing human domination of coastal ecosystems can alter local and global elemental budgets, and in elaborating effective environmental policies.

Representative Publications:

Duarte, C. M., J. Cebrian and N. Marbá. 1992. Global change in the marine environment: the life-history of long-term monitoring programmes in Europe. Nature 356: 190.

Cebrian, J. and C. M. Duarte.1994. The dependence of herbivory on growth rate in natural plant communities. Funct. Ecol. 8: 518-525

Cebrian, J. and C. M. Duarte. 1995. Plant growth-rate dependence of detrital carbon storage in ecosystems. Science 268: 1606-1608.

Cebrian, J., C. M. Duarte, N. Marbá, S. EnrÌquez, M. Gallegos and B. Olesen. 1996. Herbivory on Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile: magnitude and variability in the Spanish Mediterranean. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 130:147-155.

Cebrian, J., C. M. Duarte, N. Marbá and S. EnrÌquez. 1997. The magnitude and fate of production of four co-occurring Western Mediterranean seagrass species. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 155:29-44

Cebrian, J., M. Williams, J. MacClelland and I. Valiela. 1998. The dependence of heterotrophy and carbon accumulation on autotrophic nutrient concentration in ecosystems. Ecology Letters 1:165-170.

Cebrian, J. and I. Valiela. 1999. Seasonal patterns in phytoplankton biomass in coastal ecosystems. J. Plankton Res. 21:429-444

Cebrian J. 1999. Patterns in the fate of production in plant communities. Am. Nat. 154:449-468.

Hauxwell, J., J. Cebrian, C. Furlong and I. Valiela. 2001. Macroalgal canopies contribute to eelgrass (Zostera marina) decline in temperate estuarine ecosystems. Ecology 82:1007-1022.

Cebrian, J.
(2002). Variability and control of carbon consumption, export, and accumulation in marine communities. Limnol. Oceanogr. 47:11-22.

Hauxwell, J., J. Cebrian and I. Valiela. 2003. Eelgrass Zostera marina loss in temperate estuaries: relationship to land-derived nitrogen loads and effect of light limitation imposed by algae. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 247:59-73

Lartigue, J.,  A. Neill, B. L. Hayden, J. Pulfer and J. Cebrian. 2003. The impact of salinity fluctuations on net oxygen production and inorganic nitrogen uptake by Ulva lactuca (Chlorophyceae).  Aquat. Bot. 75: 339-350.  

Lartigue, J., F. Fontanella, J. Cebrian and S. Arbaczauskas. 2003. Evidence that ultraviolet radiation may depress short-term photosynthetic rates of intertidal Ulva lactuca and consumption by a generalist feeder (Clibanarius vittatus). Gulf of Mexico Science 21:71-78.  

Cole, M. L., I. Valiela, K. D. Kroeger, B. Fry, G. L. Tomasky, J. Cebrian, C. Wigand, R. A. McKinney, S. P. Grady and M. E. Carvalho-Silva. 2004. Assessment of a d15N isotopic method to indicate anthropogenic eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems.  J. Env. Quality 33:124-132.

Cebrian, J. and J. Lartigue. 2004. Patterns of herbivory and decomposition in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol. Mono. 74:237-259

Cebrian, J. 2004. Role of first-order consumers in ecosystem carbon flow. Ecology Letters 7:232-240. 

Enríquez S., N. Marbà, J. Cebrian and C. M. Duarte. 2004. Annual variation in leaf photosynthesis and leaf nutrient content of four Mediterranean seagrasses. Botanica Marina 47:295-306.

Cebrian, J.  2004.  Grazing on benthic primary producers.  Pp. 153-185, In: S. L. Lielsen, G. T. Banta & M. F. Pederson (Eds.), Estuarine Nutrient Cycling: The Influence of Primary Producers.  Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London.

Mateo, M. A., J. Cebrian, K. Dunton and T. Mutchler. 2006. Carbon flux in seagrass ecosystems.  Pp. 159-162, In: Larkum, A.W.D., R. j. Orth and C. M. Duarte (Eds).  Seagrasses: Biology, Ecology and Conservation. Springer, New York.

Hauxwell, J., J. Cebrian and I. Valiela. 2006. Light dependence of Zostera marina annual growth dynamics in estuaries subject to different degrees of eutrophication. Aquatic Botany 84:17-25.

Stutes, A. L., J. Cebrian and A. A. Corcoran. 2006. Effects of nutrient enrichment and shading on sediment primary production and metabolism in eutrophic estuaries. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 312:29-43.

Current Research Grants

National Science Foundation/Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium/ Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies - Examining the effects of Hurricane Ivan in Coastal Alabama and Northwestern Florida: a positive impact on shallow coastal lagoons? 

Fundacion del Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Bank of Bilbao-Vizcaya- Argentaria Foundation - Seagrass conservation: causes for seagrass decline and effects on ecosystem functioning.   

Coastal Zone Management Agency -  Effects of oyster restoration on the quality of Alabama coastal waters: towards an accurate evaluation of the role of oysters as water cleaning agents.  

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -  Evaluating the role of restored black needlerush marsh (Juncus roemerianus) as a buffer of anthropogenic eutrophication of coastal systems: an isotope enrichment approach.  

Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies - Impacts of hurricanes on the natural and restored recovery of Juncus roemerianus in Alabama's critical salt marsh habitat. 

Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies - Metal accumulation in aquatic primary producers: ecological consequences and potential application to early detection of metal pollution.

Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies - Diversity and abundance of fungal decomposers on seagrass beds of the north central Gulf of Mexico.  Co-PI with Juan Mata.


Current Graduate Students Post Doctoral Associates


Bart Christiaen - Ph.D.

Ashley McDonald - M.S.

Rachel Gamble - M.S.

Shailesh Sharma - Ph.D.

Eric Sparks - Ph.D.

Ryan Moody, Ph.D.

Josh Goff




University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 460-6101
For questions or comments Contact Us
Last date changed: March 28, 2012 8:50 AM