Dr. Charles Amsler

Professor, Marine Ecophysiology and Chemical Ecology

(205) 975-5622
(205) 975-6097

Ph.D. (Biological Sciences), 1989, University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Description:
The research that my students and I conduct is centered in several areas but most involve chemical interactions between organisms or ways in which organisms perceive, respond to, or otherwise interact with their chemical environments. A recent extension of this work is understanding the impacts of ocean acidification and other climate change factors on marine organisms.

A particular area of ongoing interest over the past 15 years or more has been the interactions of Antarctic macroalgae and benthic invertebrates. These investigations have often involved studies of chemical defenses against predators but have also included studies of potential defenses against pathogens or fouling organisms. More recent efforts have extended this work to broader questions about the structure of Antarctic benthic communities. We are also interested in analogous questions with temperate and tropical organisms.

My laboratory also studies algal ecophysiology, often beginning with quantitative studies of the biochemistry, physiology, or swimming behavior of single cells. These algal studies start with the cell and focus in large part on physiological and behavioral adaptations to the microenvironments of the biofilm and planktonic communities. A common area of interest is the influence of nutrient and other chemical gradients on the swimming and settlement behavior of algal spores.

I am also interested in the ecophysiology and population structure of Antarctic macroalgae and microalgae. Other, previous work has included research on environmental factors governing algal seasonality, the taxonomy of filamentous brown algae, and bacterial chemotactic signal transduction.

Representative Publications:

Amsler, C.D. & V.A. Fairhead. 2006. Defensive and sensory chemical ecology of brown algae. Advances in Botanical Research 43: 1-91.

Amsler, C.D. (Editor) 2008. Algal Chemical Ecology. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. xviii + 313 pp.

Amsler, C.D., M.O. Amsler, J.B. McClintock, & B.J. Baker. 2009. Filamentous algal endophytes in macrophytic Antarctic algae: prevalence in hosts and palatability to mesoherbivores. Phycologia 48: 324-334.

Aumack, C.F., C.D. Amsler, J.B. McClintock, & B.J. Baker. 2011. Impacts of mesograzers on epiphyte and endophyte growth associated with chemically defended macroalgae from the western Antarctic Peninsula: a mesocosm experiment. Journal of Phycology 47: 36-41.

Wiencke, C. & C.D. Amsler. 2012. Seaweeds and their communities in polar regions. In: Seaweed Biology: Novel Insights into Ecophysiology, Ecology and Utilization, C. Wiencke & K. Bischof (eds.), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 265-294.

Amsler, C.D., J.B. McClintock, & B.J. Baker. 2014. Chemical mediation of mutualistic interactions between macroalgae and mesograzers structure unique coastal communities along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Phycology 50: 1-10.

Chemical Ecology
Chemical Ecology of Antarctic Marine Environments