Mary O’Connor

Associate Professor
Department of Zoology

Associate Director
Biodiversity Research Centre

University of British Columbia
4200-6270 University Blvd.
Vancvouer, BC
Canada V6T 1Z4

Phone: 604-827-5653



Research area(s):

Area of Expertise:

Dr. May O’Connor’s long-term research objective is to determine the adaptive capacity of biodiversity and ecosystem function in changing environments. She and her students draw on unifying principles from diverse ecological disciplines to predict and explain how organisms, communities and ecosystems persist in changing environments. They document biodiversity in pristine and heavily impacted coastal marine seagrass meadows, and conduct experiments to find the limits of possible ecological responses to warming, and develop theoretical and conceptual approaches to relate their observations to changes at larger and smaller scales.  They use synthesis of data and theory, together with lab and field experiments to test critical assumptions and hypotheses to advance general knowledge about ecological change.

In the UBC O’Connor lab they want to understand what drives variation in ecosystem structure and function to better understand the ecological impacts of climate change and habitat modification, and to explore how conservation efforts can be most effective given natural environmental changes.

The O’Connor Lab research includes:

  • Exploring seagrass ecosystems in British Columbia
  • Experimentally warming aquatic ecosystems
  • Understanding how temperature affects species interactions and ecosystem processes
  • Understanding relationships between marine ecological structure and human seafood-derived nutrition

Select Presentation(s) / Publication(s):

Whippo, Ross & S. Knight, Nicole & Prentice, Carolyn & Cristiani, John & Siegle, Matthew & O’Connor, Mary. (2018). Epifaunal diversity patterns within and among seagrass meadows suggest landscape-scale biodiversity processes. Ecosphere. 9. e02490. 10.1002/ecs2.2490.

Cristiani, John and O’Connor, Mary, “Prioritizing seagrass meadows for biodiversity conservation based on landscape connectivity” (2018). Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. 381.

Bittick, Sarah; Christensen, Matthew; O’Connor, Mary I.; and Wright, Nikki, “Identifying nutrient thresholds for sustainable local management of British Columbia seagrass beds” (2018). Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. 390.

Amundrud, Sarah & Srivastava, Diane & O’Connor, Mary. (2015). Indirect effects of predators control herbivore richness and abundance in a benthic eelgrass ( Zostera marina ) mesograzer community. Journal of Animal Ecology. 84. 1092-1102. 10.1111/1365-2656.12350.

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