Benthic Ecology Lab

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Research Interests

I study marine bottom-dwelling (benthic) invertebrates and how their activities influence chemical, physical, and biological processes at the sea floor. I first became interested in benthic organisms while digging up various worms, clams, shrimp and other unusual creatures inhabiting mud flats exposed at low tide in front of his grandparent's home on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, Washington.

Although the vast majority of the earth's solid surface is covered in marine mud and benthic organisms thus inhabit the largest habitat on the earth's solid surface, there is much to be learned about the ecological and functional roles these bottom dwellers play in the ocean. An important theme in my research is "bioturbation", the effects of benthic organism feeding, burrowing, and burrow ventilation on marine sediment properties. I have studied benthic communities in Puget Sound, Boston Harbor, the North Atlantic, and the Bering Sea. My current research focus is on eelgrass in Puget Sound and how it influences and is influenced by sediment pore-water hydrogen sulfide.

Piloting Western's mini ROV beneath sea ice floes in the Bering Sea


Some recent publications. A more complete list can be found at Google Scholar

Mordy, C. W., Devol. A.H.,... Shull, D.H., et al. 2017. Nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics on the inner shelf of the eastern Bering Sea, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 122, 24222440.

Shull, D.H., A. Kremp, and L.M. Mayer. 2014. Bioturbation, germination and deposition of Alexandrium fundyense cysts in the Gulf of Maine. Deep-Sea Res. II 103, 6678.

Cross, J.N. et al. 2014. Integrated assessment of the carbon budget in the southeastern Bering Sea. Deep-Sea Res. II, 109, 112-124.

Esch, M.E.S., D. H. Shull, A.H. Devol.2013. Regional patterns of bioturbation and iron and manganese reduction in the sediments of the southeastern Bering Sea. Deep- Sea Res. II, 94, 80-94.

Davenport, E.S., D.H. Shull, A.H. Devol. 2012. Roles of sorption and tube-dwelling benthos in the cycling of phosphorus in Bering Sea sediments. Deep-Sea Research II 65-70: 163-172. 

Shull, D.H., J.M. Benoit, C. Wojcik, and J.R. Senning. 2009. Infaunal burrow ventilation and pore-water transport in muddy sediments. Est. Coast. and Shelf Sci. 83, 277-286. 

Benoit, J.A., D.H. Shull, R.M. Harvey, and S.A. Beal. 2009. Effect of bioirrigation on sediment-water exchange of methylmercury in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, Environ. Sci. Technol. 43, 3669-3674.

Shull, D.H. 2009. Bioturbation, in, J.H. Steele, S.A. Thorpe, K.K. Turekian (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences. Elsevier, Ltd., pp. 395-400.

The polychaete Cirrifomia grandis from Boston Harbor