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.

(* indicates graduate student author; ** indicates undergraduate student author)

**Lannin, R. and K.A. Hovel. 2011. Variable prey density modifies the effects of seagrass habitat structure on predator-prey interactions. Marine Ecology Progress Series 442: 59-70.

*Mizerek, T., H.M. Regan, and K.A. Hovel. 2011. Habitat loss and fragmentation levels determine optimal management of invertebrates in seagrass habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series 427: 247-257.

*Loflen, C.L. and K.A. Hovel. 2010. Behavioral responses to variable predation risk in the California spiny lobster Panulirus interruptus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 420: 135-144.

*Cheng, B.S. and K.A. Hovel. 2010. Biotic resistance to invasion along an estuarine gradient. Oecologia 164: 1049-1059.

Hovel, K.A. and R.A. Wahle. 2010. Effects of habitat patchiness on American lobster movement across a gradient of predation risk and shelter competition. Ecology 91: 1993-2002.

*Moore, E.C. and K.A. Hovel. 2010. Relative influence of habitat complexity and proximity to patch edges on seagrass epifaunal communities. Oikos 119: 1299-1311.

*Selgrath, J.C., K.A. Hovel, and R.A. Wahle. 2007. Effects of habitat edges on American lobster abundance and survival. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 353: 253-264.

Hovel, K.A. and H. M. Regan. 2007. Using an individual-based model to examine the roles of habitat fragmentation and behavior on predator-prey relationships in seagrass landscapes. Landscape Ecology DOI 10.1007/s10980-007-9148-9.

*Mai, T.T. and K.A. Hovel. 2007. Influence of local-scale and landscape-scale habitat characteristics on California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) abundance and survival. Marine and Freshwater Research 58: 419-428.

*Sirota, L. and K.A. Hovel. 2006. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) structural complexity: relative effects of shoot length, shoot density, and surface area on epifaunal community composition in San Diego Bay, California, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series 326: 115-131.

*Reed, B.J. and K.A. Hovel. 2006. Seagrass habitat disturbance: how loss and fragmentation of eelgrass (Zostera marina) influences epifaunal abundance and diversity in San Diego Bay, California, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series 326: 133-143.

**Kushner, R.B. and K.A. Hovel. 2006. Effects of native predators and eelgrass habitat structure on the introduced Asian mussel Musculista senhousia in Southern California. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 332: 166-177.

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


Julia Ledbetter (M.S.)

B.S. Biology, University of Puget Sound (2009)

Research Interests: Predator-prey interactions, fishes, community ecology, seagrass ecology

Thesis topic: The effects of eelgrass epibionts on fish foraging behavior