Todd Anderson

Anderson_TDepartment of Biology
Professor, Biology
Director, Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory

Office/Lab: SDSU Main Campus, Life Science North 201/201
Phone: 619-594-0995 (office)/619-594-3750 (lab)

Fish Ecology Lab

Dr. Todd Anderson heads the San Diego State University Fish Ecology Lab, with interests in the population ecology and assemblage structure of coastal fishes on kelp-forested rocky reefs, coral reefs, and seagrass-associated ecosystems. Dr. Anderson and his students have often focused on the processes that influence recruitment success (input and survival of early life stages), interactions between predator-mediated mortality and structural habitat complexity, links between individual condition and performance on population demography, and direct and indirect trophic interactions through both density- and trait-mediated effects. Dr. Anderson received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences at California State University, Fresno, a master’s degree in Biology through Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and a Ph.D. in Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. After holding a Friday Harbor Laboratories Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Washington followed by a position as a Research Associate at Oregon State University working with Dr. Mark Hixon in the Bahamas, he accepted a faculty position in the Department of Biology at San Diego State University (SDSU) in 1999. Dr. Anderson is currently Professor of Biology and Director of the Coastal and Marine Institute and its laboratory that supports the research of more than seven faculty and over 25 graduate students, also providing hands-on research experiences for many undergraduates. The Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory (CMIL), located in an urban environment on San Diego Bay, allows for both basic and applied research. CMIL has been in operation since 2006, supporting research, providing seminar and scientific diving training courses, and promoting research experiences for undergraduates, science education, and public outreach. Dr. Anderson continues to build infrastructure at CMIL to increase capabilities for faculty and student research. In conjunction with the Marine Biology and Ecology Student Association (MEBSA) at SDSU, CMIL provides lab tours, educational opportunities, hosts an annual open house to the public, and provides a supportive environment for research. In his limited free time, Dr. Anderson enjoys traveling, all-grain brewing of several styles of ales, and trying to become mildly proficient at playing electric guitar, with a preference for the blues.

The general focus of our research group is to understand the ecology and biology of marine organisms, particularly coastal fishes, as models to test hypotheses of basic or applied ecological interest. Interactions between individual performance, condition, and behavior that inform the demography of fish populations are a current emphasis, as are trophic cascades based on the relative importance of density-mediated (consumptive) and trait-mediated (non-consumptive effects. We work in a variety of ecosystems, and our interests include the processes and mechanisms that influence the demography of populations and the structure of assemblages. We often use scientific diving and direct our studies towards effects on the early life stages of fishes, especially recruitment (input of young) to demersal habitats. Explore our website to learn more about us and our projects.

(* = graduate student; ** = undergraduate student)

*Brower, J.P., and T.W. Anderson. Consequences of predation threat for a macrophyte-associated fish (in revision).

*Ou, M., *K. Tovey, T.W. Anderson, A.P. Summers, M.J. O’Donnell, F.W. Goetz, and C.J. Brauner. Effects of elevated CO2 on growth, metabolism, and swimming performance of early life stages of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) (in review).

*Sievers, K.T., *R.J. Barr, J.M. Maloney, N.W. Driscoll, and T.W. Anderson. Impact of habitat structure on fish populations in kelp forests at a seascape scale (in review).

*Wheeler, S.G., T.W. Anderson, *T.W. Bell, S.G. Morgan, and J.A. Hobbs. Regional productivity predicts individual growth and recruitment of rockfishes in a northern California upwelling system (in review).

*Gregor, C.A., and T.W. Anderson. 2016. Relative importance of habitat attributes to predation risk in a temperate reef fish. Environmental Biology of Fishes 99:539-556.

*Morton, D.N., *T.W. Bell, and T.W. Anderson. 2016. Spatial synchrony of amphipods in giant kelp forests. Marine Biology 163:Article 32 (DOI:10.1007/s00227-015-2807-5).

*Renick, V.C, *K. Wienersmith, D. Vidal-Dorsch, and T.W. Anderson. 2016. Effects of a pesticide and parasite on neurological, endocrine, and behavioral responses of California killifish (Fundulus parvipinnis). Aquatic Toxicology 170:335-343. (special issue: Behaviour in Aquatic Toxicology).

*Wheeler, S.G., A.D. Russell, J.S. Fehrenbacher, and S.G. Morgan. 2016. Evaluating chemical signatures in a coastal upwelling region to reconstruct water mass associations of settlement-stage rockfishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 550:191-206.

​*Nichols, T.A., T.W. Anderson, and A. Širović. 2015. Intermittent noise induces physiological stress in a coastal marine fish. PLOS ONE 10:e0139157.

*Renick, V.C., T.W. Anderson, S.G. Morgan, and G.N. Cherr. 2015. Interactive effects of pesticide exposure and habitat structure on behavior and predation of a marine larval fish. Ecotoxicology 24:391-400.

*Jones, C.L., T.W. Anderson, and M.S. Edwards. 2013. Evaluating eelgrass site quality by the settlement, performance, and survival of a marine fish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 445:61-68.

*Morton, D.N., and T.W. Anderson. 2013. Spatial patterns of invertebrate settlement in giant kelp forests. Marine Ecology Progress Series 485: 75-89.

Hixon, M.A., T.W. Anderson, K.L. Buch, D. W. Johnson, J.B. McLeod, and C.D. Stallings. 2012. Density dependence and population regulation in marine fish: a large-scale, long-term field manipulation. Ecological Monographs 82:467-489.

*Lewis, L.S., and T.W. Anderson. 2012. Top-down control of epifauna by fishes enhances seagrass production. Ecology 93:2746-2757.

DeMartini, E.E., T.W. Anderson, A.M. Friedlander, and J.P. Beets. 2011. Predator biomass, prey density, and species composition effects on group size in recruit coral reef fishes. Marine Biology 158:2437-2447.

Hunsicker, M.E., L. Ciannelli, K.M. Bailey, J.A. Buckel, J.W. White, J.S. Link, T.E. Essington, S.Gaichas, T.W. Anderson, R.D. Brodeur, K.S Chan, K. Chen, G. Englund, K.T. Frank, V. Freitas, M.A. Hixon, T. Hurst, D.W. Johnson, J.F. Kitchell, D. Reese, G.A. Rose, H. Sjodin, W.J. Sydeman, H.W. van der Veer, K. Vollset, and S. Zador. 2011. Functional responses and scaling in predator–prey interactions of marine fishes: contemporary issues and emerging concepts. Ecology Letters 14:1288-1299.

White, J.W., L.W. Botsford, M.L. Baskett, L.A.K. Barnett, *R.J. Barr, and A. Hastings. 2011. Linking models and monitoring data for assessing performance of no-take marine reserves. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9:390–399.

DeMartini, E.E., T.W. Anderson, J.C. Kenyon, J.P. Beets, and A.M. Friedlander. 2010. Management implications of juvenile reef fish habitat preferences and coral susceptibility to stressors. Marine and Freshwater Research 61:1-9. (journal cover)

*Deza, A.A., and T.W. Anderson. 2010. Habitat fragmentation, patch size, and the distribution and abundance of kelp forest fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 416:229-240.

**Farlin, J.P., *L.S. Lewis, T.W. Anderson, and C-T Lai. 2010. Functional diversity in amphipods revealed by stable isotopes in an eelgrass ecosystem. Marine Ecology Progress Series 420:277–281.

*Floyd, E.Y., and T.W. Anderson. 2010. Interactive effects of nutritional condition and refuge availability on survival of a temperate reef goby. Marine Ecology Progress Series 407:257-269.

*O’Connor, K.C., and T.W. Anderson. 2010. Consequences of habitat disturbance and recovery to recruitment and the abundance of kelp forest fishes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 386:1-10.

*Floyd, E.Y., J.P. Geist, and I. Werner. 2008. Acute, sublethal exposure to a pyrethroid insecticide alters behavior, growth, and predation risk in larvae of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 27:1780-1787.

*Galst, C.A., and T.W. Anderson. 2008. Fish-habitat associations and the role of disturbance in surfgrass beds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 365:177-186.

Anderson, T.W. 2007. Guide to identification and surveying of near shore fishes. In Sampling biodiversity in coastal communities — NaGISA protocols for seagrass and macroalgal habitats (P.R. Rigby, K. Iken, and Y. Shirayama, eds.). Kyoto University Press, Kyoto p. 90-92.

Anderson, T.W., M.H. Carr, and M.A. Hixon. 2007. Patterns and mechanisms of variable settlement and recruitment of a coral reef damselfish, Chromis cyanea. Marine Ecology Progress Series 350:109-116.

*Davenport, A.C., and T.W. Anderson. 2007. Positive indirect effects of reef fishes on kelp performance: the importance of mesograzers. Ecology 88:1548-1561.

DeMartini, E.E., and T.W. Anderson. 2007. Habitat associations and aggregation of recruit fishes on Hawaiian coral reefs. Bulletin of Marine Science 81:139-152.

*Floyd, E.Y., R. Churchwell, and J.J. Cech, Jr. 2007. Effects of water velocity and trash rack architecture on fish passage and interactions: a simulation. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 136:1177-1186.

*Lewallen, E.A., T.W. Anderson, and A.J. Bohonak. 2007. Genetic structure of leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) populations in California waters. Marine Biology 152:599-609.

*Webber, J.D., S.N. Chun, T.R. MacColl, L.T. Mirise, A. Kawabata, E.K. Anderson, T.S. Cheong, L. Kavvas, M.M. Rotondo, K.L. Hochgraf, R. Churchwell, and J.J. Cech, Jr. 2007. Upstream swimming performance of adult white sturgeon: effects of partial baffles and a ramp. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 136:402-408.

Reed, D.C., S.C. Schroeter, D. Huang, T.W. Anderson, and R.F. Ambrose. 2006. Quantifying the performance of different artificial reef designs in mitigating losses to kelp bed fishes in southern California. Bulletin of Marine Science 78:133-150.

Steele, M.A., and T.W. Anderson. 2006. Predation. In Ecology of marine fishes: California and adjacent waters (L.G. Allen, M.H. Horn, and D.J. Pondella II, eds.). University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 428-448.

*Andrews, K.S., and T.W. Anderson. 2004. Habitat-dependent recruitment of two temperate reef fishes at multiple spatial scales. Marine Ecology Progress Series 277:231-244.

Anderson, T.W., C.T. Bartels, M.A. Hixon, E. Bartels, M.H. Carr, and J.M. Shenker. 2002. Current velocity and catch efficiency in sampling settlement-stage larvae of coral-reef fishes. Fishery Bulletin 100:404-413.

Carr, M.H., T.W. Anderson, and M.A. Hixon. 2002. Biodiversity, population regulation, and the stability of coral-reef fish communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:11241-11245.

Anderson, T.W. 2001. Predator responses, prey refuges, and density-dependent mortality of a marine fish. Ecology 82:245-257.

Samantha Neary (M.S.)

B.A. Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2015)

Research Interests: Trophic ecology, predator-prey interactions, trait-mediated indirect interactions, olfactory cues, recruitment

Thesis topic: TBD


Patrick Saldana (M.S.)

B.A. Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara (2012)

Research Interests: Biodiversity, predator-prey interactions, mutualisms, recruitment of rocky reef fishes, and marine community ecology

Thesis topic: The effects of predator diversity on red algae associated invertebrate communities.


Claire Spitzer (M.S.)

B.A. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder (2013)

Research Interests: Parasite-Host Interactions, predator-prey dynamics, reef fish ecology

Thesis topic: Parasite-mediated predator-prey interactions in California coastal fishes


Lynne Wetmore (Ph.D.)

Research Interests:

Dissertation topic: