Kevin Hovel

Department of Biology
Professor, Biology

Office/Lab: SDSU Main Campus, Life Science 352/341
Phone: 6619-594-6322 (office)/619-594-5645 (lab)

Marine Conservation Ecology Lab


I joined the SDSU faculty in 2001. Before arriving at SDSU, in 1999 I received my Ph.D. from the School of Marine Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, part of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. I then was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate, working at the Beaufort, NC NOAA lab with Dr. Mark Fonseca. In 2000 I moved to California and spent one year as a visiting assistant professor at Sonoma State University in Sonoma County, CA before coming to SDSU.

My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of marine invertebrates. Some of the projects underway in the lab include (see my research page for more information and more projects):

  • the effects of seagrass habitat structure on invertebrate population dynamics, community structure, and predator-prey relationships, with particular reference to structure at landscape scales
  • spiny lobster behavior, survival, and population dynamics in southern California
  • effects of habitat structure on American lobster population dynamics, behavior, survival, and distribution in New England (a collaboration with Dr. Rick Wahle of the Bigelow Labs for Ocean Sciences, and funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA’s National Undersea Research Program).
  • population dynamics of the Asian mussel Musculista senhousia in southern California.

Courses I have taught at SDSU include:

  • Marine Ecology (Bio 517), an upper division lab class for biology majors. The class focuses on the interactions that occur among marine organisms and their surrounding biotic and abiotic features.
  • Ecology and the environment (Bio 354), an upper division introductory course in ecology. I handle the first half of the semester on populations, life tables, community-level interactions, and conservation ecology.
  • Life in the sea (Bio 324), an upper division course in marine biology for non-biology majors that introduces non-biology students to marine organisms and their environments.
  • Biostatistics (Bio 215), a lower division introductory course in probability, graphing, distributions, and statistics for biology and pre-med majors.
  • Ecology and human impacts on the environment (Biol 315), a non-majors course in environmental science focusing on the ways in which people influence their environment and the natural world.
  • Marine conservation biology (Biol 677), a graduate-level course in marine conservation that focuses on problems and solutions to the marine biodiversity crisis.
  • Theory and principles of ecology (Biol 645, team taught), a graduate-level core course in ecology for entering MS and PhD students.

Dunn, R.P., M.L. Baskett, and K.A. Hovel. In press. Interactive effects of predator and prey harvest on ecological resilience of rocky reefs. Ecological Applications.

Reynolds, P.L., J.J. Stachowicz, K.A. Hovel, C. Boström, K. Boyer, M. Cusson, J.S. Eklöf, F.G. Engel, A.H. Engelen, B.K. Eriksson, J. Fodrie, J.N. Griffin, C. Hereu, M. Hori, T. Hanley, M. Ivanov, P. Jorgensen, C. Kruschel, K.S. Lee, K. McGlathery, P.O. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, F.T. Nash, M.I. O’Connor, N. O’Connor, R.J. Orth, F. Rossi, J. Ruesink, E. Sotka, R.K.F. Unsworth, M.A. Whalen, and J. E. Duffy. In press. Latitude, temperature and habitat complexity predict predation pressure in eelgrass across the Northern Hemisphere. Ecology.

Ruesink,J.L., P.L. Reynolds, C. Boström, M. Cusson, J. Douglass, J. Eklöf, A. H. Engelen, M. Hori, K. Hovel, K. Iken, P.O. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, M.I. O’Connor, J.L. Olsen, E.E. Sotka, J.J. Stachowicz, *M.A. Whalen, J.E. Duffy. In press. Global variation in form-function relationships in a marine foundation species and experimental tests of responses to multiple stressors. Oikos. DOI 10.1111/oik.04270

Hovel, K.A. and H.M. Regan. 2017. Using individual-based models to explore seascape ecology. In: Pittman, S.A. (ed.) Seascape Ecology. Wiley and Sons, Oxford, UK.

Yeager, M.E. and K.A. Hovel. 2017. Structural complexity and fish body size interactively affect habitat optimality. Oecologia DOI: 10.1007/s00442-017-3932-2

Dunn, R.P., A.H. Altieri, K. Miller, M.E. Yeager, and K.A. Hovel. 2017. Coral identity and structural complexity drive habitat associations and demographic processes for an increasingly important Caribbean herbivore. Marine Ecology Progress Series 577: 33-47.

Hovel, K.A., A.M. Warneke, S.P. Virtue-Hilborn, and **A.E. Sanchez. 2016. Mesopredator foraging success in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.): relative effects of epiphytes, shoot density, and prey abundance. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 474: 142-147.

Castorani, M.C.N. and K.A. Hovel. 2016. Native predator chemical cues induce anti-predation behaviors in an invasive marine bivalve. Biological Invasions 18: 169-181.

Harrington, A.C. and K.A. Hovel. 2016. Patterns of shelter use and their effects on the relative survival of subadult California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus). Marine and Freshwater Research 67: 1153-1162.

Castorani, MCN and K.A. Hovel. 2015. Invasive prey indirectly increase predation on their native competitors. Ecology 96: 1911-1922

Kyra Barboza (M.S.)

B.S. Environmental Science and Policy, California State University, Long Beach (2015)

Research Interests: Human impacts, contaminants, predator-prey interactions, ecosystem function, biodiversity, community conservation and restoration

Thesis topic: TBD


Theresa Burnham (Ph.D.)

B.S. Biology, Northeastern University (2015)

Research Interests: Fisheries ecology, conservation biology, socioeconomic implications of climate change

Dissertation topic: TBD


Robert Dunn (Ph.D.)

B.A. Environmental Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2009) M.S. Marine Science, North Carolina State University (2013)

Research Interests: Predator-prey interactions, conservation, ecosystem restoration, fisheries ecology

Dissertation topic: California spiny lobster ecology and impacts of fisheries on rocky reef community dynamics


Website: Applied Marine Ecology

Kaylee Griffith (M.S.)

B.S. Marine Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

Research Interests: Community ecology, seascape ecology, foundation species, conservation and restoration ecology, social-ecological systems

Thesis topic: Seagrass edge effects: the influence of patch edge type on epifaunal communities in restored eelgrass habitat