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Associate Professor of Biology
Fish Ecology Lab
Department of Biology
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8303
Ph.D. Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1995
The main goal of my research is to elucidate the causes of variation in abundance of organisms that live in open populations in order to understand and predict their dynamics and spatial patterns. I place particular emphasis on evaluating the relative importance of the various processes that determine patterns of abundance, population dynamics, and community structure. I have worked on reef fishes in temperate (southern California), subtropical (Gulf of California, Mexico), and tropical (Bahamas) systems, and also on estuarine fishes in southern California. A major focus of research in my lab is testing for equivalence of yield in biomass and reproductive output of reef fishes between artificial and natural reefs in Southern California.
Other aspects of my lab's research program include: population dynamics and community structure of non-exploited reef fishes; density dependence in commercially-exploited reef fishes and implications for fisheries management using marine protected areas; and the ecology of estuarine fishes, particularly as related to wetland restoration projects.
Vance, R.R., M. A. Steele, and G. E. Forrester. 2010. Using an individual-based model to quantify scale transition in demographic rate functions: deaths in a coral reef fish. Ecological Modelling 221:1907-1921
Heinlein, J. M., A. C. Stier, and M. A. Steele. 2010. Predators reduce abundance and species richness of coral reef fish recruits via non-selective predation. Coral Reefs 29:527–532
Samhouri*, J. F., R. R. Vance, G. E. Forrester, and M. A. Steele. 2009. Musical chairs: density-dependent mortality caused by competition for unguarded refuges. Oecologia 160:257-265
Paddack, M. J., J. D. Reynolds, C. Aguilar, R. S. Appeldoorn, J. Beets, E. W. Burkett, P. M. Chittaro, K. Clarke, R. Esteves, A. C. Fonseca, G. E. Forrester, A. M. Friedlander, J. García-Sais, G. González-Sansón, L. K. B. Jordan, D. McClellan, M. W. Miller, P. P. Molloy, P. J. Mumby, I. Nagelkerken, M. Nemeth, R. Navas-Camacho, J. Pitt, N. V. C. Polunin, M. C. Reyes-Nivia, D. R. Robertson, A. Rodríguez Ramírez, E. Salas, S. R. Smith, R. E. Spieler, M. A. Steele, I. D. Williams, C. Wormald, A. R. Watkinson, I. M. Côté. 2009. Recent region-wide declines in Caribbean reef fish abundance. Current Biology 19:590-595
Samhouri, J. F., M. A. Steele, and G. E. Forrester. 2009. Intercohort competition drives selective mortality and shelter-mediated density dependence in a coral reef fish. Ecology 90:1009-1020
Stier, A. C., M. A. Steele, and A. J. Brooks. 2009. Coral reef fishes use the crown-of-thorns seastar as habitat. Coral Reefs 28:227
Forrester, G. E., M. A. Steele, J. F. Samhouri, B. Evans*, and R. R. Vance. 2008. Spatial density dependence scales up but does not produce temporal density dependence in a coral reef fish. Ecology 89:2980-2985
Forrester, G. E., M. A. Steele, J. F. Samhouri, and R. R. Vance. 2008. Settling reef fish discriminate among habitats at large, but not small, spatial scales. Limnology and Oceanography 53:1956-1962.
Wormald, C. L. and M. A. Steele. 2008. Testing assumptions of mark-recapture theory in the coral reef fish Lutjanus apodus. Journal of Fish Biology 73:498–509.
Williams, J. P., L. G. Allen, M. A. Steele, and D. J. Pondella. 2007. El Niño periods increase growth of juvenile white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis) in the Southern California Bight. Marine Biology 152:193–200.
Steele, M. A., S. C. Schroeter, and H. M. Page. 2007. Preliminary investigation of the effects of purse seine size on estimates of density and species richness of estuarine fishes. Estuaries and Coasts: In press.