Robert C. Carpenter

Robert Carpenter
(818) 677-3256
Office location:
Magnolia Hall 4110



Ph.D. University of Georgia

Research Specialities

My research interests are focused on the ecology of marine benthic communities. Specifically, I am interested in the coupling between physical aspects of the environment (primarily light and water flow) and the physiology of algae and algal communities, and in interactions between herbivores and algae, and how these processes cascade upward to the community level. One current research project is examining the role of hydrodynamics in controlling the rates of metabolism of coral reef algal communities in Hawaii and Moorea, French Polynesia. My students and I take a combined laboratory and field approach to test hypotheses about mass-transfer limitation of reef algae across spatial scales. We use a variety of sophisticated instrumentation to measure water flow at a variety of spatial scales and estimate rates of organismal metabolism in flumes. We have addressed similar questions in kelp forest environments at Santa Catalina Island. Another major research thrust in my lab is associated with the NSF LTER coral reef site in Moorea. See more details here ( As one of 4 PIs on this project, I am involved in quantifying long-term changes in coral reef community structure and function. Additionally, we are interested in how coral reef metabolism is driven by both large- and small-scale hydrodynamic processes and how this also might influence distributions and abundances of reef organisms and trophic dynamics. My most recent research focus has been on the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef calcifying organisms and communities. We are addressing these effects on organismal physiology, ecological interactions, and at the whole reef scale in Moorea. See more details here ( Lastly, I have a NASA-funded project (CORAL) that is connecting high-resolution remotely sensed images of coral reefs with high resolution measurements of reef community structure and function for reefs acrosss the Pacific Ocean. More details can be found at the CORAL website. While the majority of my interests are focused on coral reefs and other algal-dominated marine communities, several students in my laboratory have conducted research on benthic invertebrates living in intertidal, kelp forest, and coral reef environments.

Current Research Grants

National Science Foundation, Biol. Oceanogr. (OCE-1637396), MCR-LTERIII: Long-term dynamics of a coral reef ecosystem (with P. Edmunds [CSUN] and R. Schmitt/S. Holbrook [UCSB])

National Science Foundation, Biol. Oceanogr. (OCE-), RAPID: Immediate and subsequent effects of coral bleaching on fore reef community metabolism.

Recent Publications (* students when the work was done)

Srednick, G., JL Bergman, SS Doo, M Hawthorne, J Ferree, R Rojas, R. Arias, PJ Edmunds, and RC Carpenter. In revision. SCoRE FOCE: Novel in situ flumes to manipulate pCO2 on shallow tropical coral reef communities. Limnology and Oceanography Methods.

Edmunds, PJ, S. Doo, and R.C. Carpenter. In revision. Year-long effects of high pCO2 on the community structure of a tropical fore reef assembled in outdoor flumes. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Manning, J., E. Miranda, and R.C. Carpenter. 2019. Ocean acidification reduces net calcification and wound healing in the tropical crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes (Corallinales, Rhodophyta). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.

Pisapia, C., E. Hochberg and R.C. Carpenter. 2019. Multi-decadal change in reef-scale production and calcification associated with recent disturbances. Frontiers of Marine Science.

Doo, S., P. Edmunds, and R.C. Carpenter. 2019. Attenuation of ocean acidification through rapid community readjustment in coral reefs. Scientific Reports 9:12067

Comeau, S. C. Cornwall, T. DeCarlo, S. Doo, R.Carpenter, and M. McCulloch. 2019. Resistance to ocean acidification in coral reef taxa is not gained by acclimatization. Nature Climate Change.

Edmunds, PJ, S Doo, and RC Carpenter. 2019. Changes in coral reef community structure in response to year-long incubations under contrasting pCO2 regimes. Mar. Biol.
Briggs, A.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2019. Contrasting responses of photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency to ocean acidification under different light environments in a calcifying alga. Scientific Reports 9:3986.

Edmunds, PJ, SE McIlroy, MAdjeroud, P Ang, JL Bergman, RC Carpenter, MA Coffroth, A Fujimura, J Hench, SJ Holbrook, JJ Leichter, S Muko, Y Nakajima, M Nakamura, CB Paris, R Schmitt, M Sutthacheep, R Toonen, K Sakai, G Suzuki, L Washburn, AS Wyatt, S Mitarai. 2018. Critical information gaps impeding understanding of the role of larval connectivity among coral reef islands in an era of global change. Frontiers of Marine Science.

Doo, S., P.J. Edmunds, and R.C. Carpenter. 2018. Obligate ectosymbionts increase the physiological resilience of a scleractinian coral to high temperature and elevated pCO2. Coral Reefs 37:997-1001.

Johnson, M.D.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2018. Nitrogen enrichment offsets direct negative effects of ocean acidification on a reef-building crustose coralline alga. Biology Letters 14:20180371

Holbrook, S., T. Adam, P. Edmunds, R. Schmitt, R. Carpenter, A. Brooks, H. Lenihan, and C. Briggs. 2018. Recruitment drives spatial variation in recovery rates of resilient coral reefs. Scientific Reports 8:7338 doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25414-8.

Carpenter, R.C, C.A. Lantz, E. Shaw, and P.J. Edmunds. 2018. Responses of coral reef community metabolism in flumes to ocean acidification. Marine Biology. 165: 66.

Lantz, C., R. Carpenter, P. Edmunds, and S. Comeau. 2017. Organisms composing an experimental coral reef community from Moorea, French Polynesia exhibit taxon-specific net production: net calcification ratios. Frontiers in Marine Science 4:1-9.

Comeau, S., P.J. Edmunds, C.A. Lantz, R.C. Carpenter. 2017. Variation in net primary production and net calcification in coral reef communities exposed to elevated pCO2. Biogeosciences 14:3549-3560.

Lantz, C., R.C. Carpenter, and P.J. Edmunds. 2017. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediment dissolution under elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrate (NO3−). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 495:48-56.

Ho, M.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2017. Differential growth responses to water flow and reduced pH in tropical marine macroalgae. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 491:58-65.

Comeau, S., A. Venn, S. Tambutte, C. Pages, P. Edmunds, R. Carpenter, N. Evensen*. 2017. Coral pH regulation of the calcifying fluid is modulated by seawater dissolved inorganic carbon concentration. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Shaw, E.C., R.C. Carpenter, C. Lantz, and P.J. Edmunds. 2016 Intraspecific variability in the response to ocean warming and acidification in the scleractinian coral Acropora pulchra. Marine Biology 163:210. DOI 10.1007/s00227-016-2986-8.

Edmunds P.J., S. Comeau, C. Lantz, A. Andersson, C. Briggs, A. Cohen, J.P. Gattuso, J. Grady, K. Gross, M. Johnson, E. Muller, J.B. Ries, S. Tambutté, E. Tambutté, A. Venn, and R.C. Carpenter. 2016. Integrating the effects of ocean acidification across functional scales on coral reefs. BioScience 66 (4):1-13 doi:10.1093/biosci/biw023.

Comeau, S., R.C. Carpenter, C. Lantz, and P.J. Edmunds. 2016. Parameterization of the response of calcification to temperature and pCO₂ in the coral Acropora pulchra and the alga Lithophyllum kotschyanum. Coral Reefs. DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1425-0

Comeau, S., R.C. Carpenter, and P.J. Edmunds. 2016. Effects of pCO2 on net photosynthesis and respiration of tropical scleractinian corals and calcified algae. ICES J. Mar. Sci. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsv267

Comeau, S., C. Lantz, P.J. Edmunds, and R.C. Carpenter. 2015. Framework of barrier reefs threatened by ocean acidification. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13023.

Comeau S., R.C. Carpenter, C.A. Lantz, and P.J. Edmunds. 2015. Ocean acidification accelerates dissolution of experimental coral reef communities. Biogeosciences 12:365-372.

Edmunds, P.J., R. Steneck, R. Albright, R.C. Carpenter, A. Chui Pui, T-Y. Fan, S. Harii, H. Kitano, H. Kurihara, L. Legendre, S. Mitarai, S. Muko, T. Nozawa, J. Padilla-Gamino, N.N. Price, K. Sakai, G. Suzuki, M.J.H. van Oppen, A. Yarid, R.D. Gates. 2015. Geographic variation in long-term trajectories of change in coral recruitment: a global-to-local perspective. Marine and Freshwater Research,

Benes, K.M.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2015. Kelp canopy facilitates understory algal assemblage via competitive release during early stages of secondary succession. Ecology 96:241-251.

Edmunds, P.J., M.Adjeroud, M.L. Baskett, I.B. Baums, A.F. Budd, R.C. Carpenter, N.S. Fabina, Tung-Yung Fan, E.C. Franklin, K. Gross, X. Han, L. Jacobson, J.S. Klaus, T.R. McClanahan, J.K. O’Leary, M.J.H. van Oppen, X. Pochon, H.M. Putnam, T.B. Smith, M. Stat, H. Sweatman, R.van Woesik, R.D. Gates. 2015. Persistence and change in community composition of reef corals through present, past, and future climates. PLOS ONE 9:e107525.

Comeau, S., P.J. Edmunds, C. Lantz, and R.C. Carpenter. 2014. Water flow modulates the response of coral reef communities to ocean acidification. Scientific Reports 4:6681.

Brown, A.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2014. Water flow influences the mechanisms and outcomes of interactions between massive Porites and coral reef algae. Marine Biology. DOI 10.1007/s00227-014-2593-5

Gowan, J.*, J. Tootell*, R.C. Carpenter. 2014. The effects of water flow and sedimentation on interactions between massive Porites and algal turf. Coral Reefs 33:651-663.

Johnson, M.D.*, V. Moriarty, and R.C. Carpenter. 2014. Acclimitization of the crustose coralline alga Porolithon onkodes to variable pCO2. PLOS ONE 9:1-10.

S. Comeau, P. J. Edmunds, N. B. Spindel, R. C. Carpenter. 2014. Fast coral reef calcifiers are more sensitive to ocean acidification in short-term laboratory incubations. Limnology and Oceanography 59:1081-1091.

Comeau, S., R.C. Carpenter, P.J. Edmunds. 2014. Effects of irradiance on the response of the coral Acropora pulchra and the calcifying alga Hydrolithon reinboldii to temperature elevation and ocean acidification. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 453-67-76.

Comeau, S., P.J. Edmunds, N. B. Spindel, R.C. Carpenter. 2014. Diel pCO2 oscillations modulate the response of the coral Acropora hyacinthus to ocean acidification. Marine Ecology Progress Series 501-99-111.

Poray, A.K.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2014. Distributions of coral reef macroalgae in a back reef habitat in Moorea, French Polynesia. Coral Reefs. 33:67-76.

Brown, A.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2013. Water flow mediated oxygen dynamics within massive Porites-algal turf interactions. Marine Ecology Progress Series 490:1-10.

Comeau, S, R.C. Carpenter, P.J. Edmunds. 2013. Effects of feeding and light intensity on the response of the coral Porites rus to ocean acidification. Marine Biology. DOI 10.1007/s00227-012-2165-5.

Alldredge, A.L, C.A. Carlson, and R.C. Carpenter. 2013. The organic carbon budget of a coral reef flat in Moorea, French Polynesia. Oceanography 26:108-113.

Edmunds, P.J., R.C. Carpenter, and S. Comeau. 2013. Understanding the threats of ocean acidification to coral reefs. Oceanography 26:149-152.

Leichter, James L., Alice L. Alldredge, Giacomo Bernardi, Craig A. Carlson, Robert C. Carpenter, Peter J. Edmunds, Melanie R. Fewings, Katherine M. Hanson, James L. Hench, Craig E. Nelson, Robert J. Toonen, Libe Washburn, and Alex S.J. Wyatt . 2013. Investigating Transport and Retention on a Tropical Island Coral Reef. Oceanography 26:52-63.

Comeau S., Edmunds P. J., Spindel N.B., Carpenter R.C. 2013. The responses of eight coral reef calcifiers to increasing partial pressure of CO2 do not exhibit a "tipping point". Limnology and Oceanography 58:388-398.

Comeau S., Carpenter R.C., Edmunds P.J., 2012. Coral reef calcifiers buffer their response to ocean acidification using both bicarbonate and carbonate. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280:20122374.

Johnson, M.D.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2012. Ocean acidification and warming temperature decrease calcification in the crustose coralline alga Hydrolithon onkodes and increase susceptibility to grazing. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 434-435:94-101.

Adam, T.C., R.J. Schmitt, S.J. Holbrook, A.J. Brooks, P.J. Edmunds, R.C. Carpenter, and G. Bernardi. 2011. Herbivory, connectivity, and ecosystem resilience: response of a coral reef to a large-scale perturbation. PLoS One 6: 8. 08.

Ferrier, G.A.* and R.C. Carpenter. 2009. Subtidal benthic heterogeneity: flow environment modification and impacts on marine algal community structure and morphology. Biological Bulletin 217: 2. 115-129.


Current Graduate Students

Ashtyn Isaak- BS, Oregon State Univ.
Jayslen Serrano- BA, CSUN
Jessica Glanz- BS, UC Santa Cruz
Kaela Tyler- BS, CSUN


Recent Graduates from the Lab

Maureen Ho- (Ph.D. program Griffith Univ.), BS, California State University, Long Beach
Amy Briggs- (Ph.D. program Univ. of Georgia), BS, Stanford University
Carolina Mor- (Pacific Science Center, Seattle), BS, Barry Univ.
Joshua Manning- (Ph.D. program Florida State Univ.)- BS,    University of Maine
Sarah Merolla- (technician UC Davis, BML), BS, University of        Rhode Island
Bridget Shayka- (Ph.D. program Univ. of Michigan)- BS, Univ. of   Virginia
Lansing Perng- (Ph.D. program Univ. of Hawaii) - BS, UCLA