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Catherine Pfister

InstitutionUniversity of Chicago
DepartmentEcology and Evolution
AddressChicago IL 60637
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    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview
    My research in ecology has focused on the dynamics of species in marine systems and the role they play at ecosystems scales. Two recurring themes in my research are the implications of species interactions for community and ecosystem dynamics, and the contribution of climate change to species dynamics. My interests can be broadly grouped into four areas: (1) the interplay between species and productivity in coastal marine ecosystems, (2) the implications of ocean acidification in coastal marine ecosystems, (3) identifying the causes and consequences of variability in marine populations and (4) understanding the relative impacts of genetic and demographic factors to extinction risk.

    I train PhD students who are interested in testing ecological and evolutionary concepts and pursuing new discoveries in marine ecosystems. Students in my lab have used a diversity of methods in their work, including mathematical models, genetics and -omics, biogeochemistry, and microscopy. There is a diverse group of faculty across multiple departments whose work is related to the ecology of the oceans, and the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole is our affiliate.

    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    University of Washington, SeattlePhD07/1993Zoology
    University of North Carolina, Chapel HillMS06/1987Marine Sciences
    University of Illinois, Champaign-UrbanaBS05/1984Biology
    Collapse awards and honors
    1993 - 1995Miller Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Berkeley
    2018Frances Straus Mentorship Award, University of Chicago

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Pfister CA, Cardini U, Mirasole A, Montilla LM, Veseli I, Gattuso JP, Teixido N. Microbial associates of an endemic Mediterranean seagrass enhance the access of the host and the surrounding seawater to inorganic nitrogen under ocean acidification. Sci Rep. 2023 11 15; 13(1):19996. PMID: 37968499; PMCID: PMC10651887.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Animals
    2. Miranda K, Weigel BL, Fogarty EC, Veseli IA, Giblin AE, Eren AM, Pfister CA. The Diversity and Functional Capacity of Microbes Associated with Coastal Macrophytes. mSystems. 2022 Oct 26; 7(5):e0059222. PMID: 35993708; PMCID: PMC9601103.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    
    3. Pfister CA. The evolutionary past and the uncertain future of foundational species. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 08 16; 119(33):e2211134119. PMID: 35939678; PMCID: PMC9388067.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    
    4. Weigel BL, Miranda KK, Fogarty EC, Watson AR, Pfister CA. Functional Insights into the Kelp Microbiome from Metagenome-Assembled Genomes. mSystems. 2022 Jun 28; 7(3):e0142221. PMID: 35642511; PMCID: PMC9238374.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    5. Weigel BL, Jack L, Schlundt C, Pfister CA, Mark Welch JL, Ramírez-Puebla ST. Spatial organization of the kelp microbiome at micron scales. Microbiome. 2022 Mar 24; 10(1):52. PMID: 35331334; PMCID: PMC8944128.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    6. Pfister CA, Light SH, Bohannan B, Schmidt T, Martiny A, Hynson NA, Devkota S, David L, Whiteson K. Conceptual Exchanges for Understanding Free-Living and Host-Associated Microbiomes. mSystems. 2022 02 22; 7(1):e0137421. PMID: 35014872; PMCID: PMC8751383.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    
    7. Miranda KK, Weigel BL, McCoy SJ, Pfister CA. Differential impacts of alternate primary producers on carbon cycling. Ecology. 2021 09; 102(9):e03455. PMID: 34166524.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    
    8. Bitter MC, Kapsenberg L, Silliman K, Gattuso JP, Pfister CA. Magnitude and Predictability of pH Fluctuations Shape Plastic Responses to Ocean Acidification. Am Nat. 2021 04; 197(4):486-501. PMID: 33755541.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    9. Weigel BL, Pfister CA. The dynamics and stoichiometry of dissolved organic carbon release by kelp. Ecology. 2021 Feb; 102(2):e03221. PMID: 33048348.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    10. Weigel BL, Pfister CA. Oxygen metabolism shapes microbial settlement on photosynthetic kelp blades compared to artificial kelp substrates. Environ Microbiol Rep. 2021 Apr; 13(2):176-184. PMID: 33372322.
      Citations: 7     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    11. Martiny JBH, Whiteson KL, Bohannan BJM, David LA, Hynson NA, McFall-Ngai M, Rawls JF, Schmidt TM, Abdo Z, Blaser MJ, Bordenstein S, Bull CT, Dorrestein P, Eisen JA, Garcia-Pichel F, Gilbert J, Hofmockel KS, Holtz ML, Knight R, Mark Welch DB, McDonald D, Mouncey NJ, Mueller NT, Pfister CA, Proctor L, Sachs JL, Bréchot C, Methé B. The emergence of microbiome centres. Nat Microbiol. 2020 01; 5(1):2-3. PMID: 31857734.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    12. Bitter MC, Pfister CA, Kapsenberg L, Gattuso JP. Standing genetic variation fuels rapid adaptation to ocean acidification. Nat Commun. 2019 12 20; 10(1):5821. PMID: 31862880; PMCID: PMC6925106.
      Citations: 47     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    13. Zou HX, Anastasio AE, Pfister CA. Early succession on slag compared to urban soil: A slower recovery. PLoS One. 2019; 14(12):e0224214. PMID: 31856201; PMCID: PMC6922358.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsPHPublic Health
    14. Pfister CA, Altabet MA, Weigel BL. Kelp beds and their local effects on seawater chemistry, productivity, and microbial communities. Ecology. 2019 Oct; 100(10):e02798. PMID: 31233610.
      Citations: 12     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    15. Weigel BL, Pfister CA. Successional Dynamics and Seascape-Level Patterns of Microbial Communities on the Canopy-Forming Kelps Nereocystis luetkeana and Macrocystis pyrifera. Front Microbiol. 2019; 10:346. PMID: 30863387; PMCID: PMC6399156.
      Citations: 19     
    16. McCoy SJ, Kamenos NA, Chung P, Wootton TJ, Pfister CA. A mineralogical record of ocean change: Decadal and centennial patterns in the California mussel. Glob Chang Biol. 2018 06; 24(6):2554-2562. PMID: 29314468.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    17. Pfister CA, Betcher SP. Climate drivers and animal host use determine kelp performance over decadal scales in the kelp Pleurophycus gardneri (Laminariales, Phaeophyceae). J Phycol. 2018 Feb; 54(1):1-11. PMID: 29072316.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    18. Jackrel SL, Owens SM, Gilbert JA, Pfister CA. Identifying the plant-associated microbiome across aquatic and terrestrial environments: the effects of amplification method on taxa discovery. Mol Ecol Resour. 2017 Sep; 17(5):931-942. PMID: 27997751.
      Citations: 14     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    19. Silliman BR, Kareiva P, Pfister CA. In Memoriam: Robert Treat Paine III (1933-2016), An Outsized American Naturalist. Am Nat. 2017 Jan; 189(1):xi-xv. PMID: 28035887.
    20. Pfister C, Kaniewski J, Tomamichel M, Mantri A, Schmucker R, McMahon N, Milburn G, Wehner S. A universal test for gravitational decoherence. Nat Commun. 2016 10 03; 7:13022. PMID: 27694976; PMCID: PMC5063961.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    
    21. Stepien CC, Pfister CA, Wootton JT. Functional Traits for Carbon Access in Macrophytes. PLoS One. 2016; 11(7):e0159062. PMID: 27415005; PMCID: PMC4944969.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    22. Pfister CA, Roy K, Wootton JT, McCoy SJ, Paine RT, Suchanek TH, Sanford E. Historical baselines and the future of shell calcification for a foundation species in a changing ocean. Proc Biol Sci. 2016 06 15; 283(1832). PMID: 27306049; PMCID: PMC4920315.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    23. McCoy SJ, Allesina S, Pfister CA. Ocean acidification affects competition for space: projections of community structure using cellular automata. Proc Biol Sci. 2016 Mar 16; 283(1826):20152561. PMID: 26936244; PMCID: PMC4810847.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    24. Wootton JT, Pfister CA. Processes affecting extinction risk in the laboratory and in nature. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Nov 03; 112(44):E5903. PMID: 26483511; PMCID: PMC4640784.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    25. Pfister CA, Gilbert JA, Gibbons SM. The role of macrobiota in structuring microbial communities along rocky shores. PeerJ. 2014; 2:e631. PMID: 25337459; PMCID: PMC4203024.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    
    26. Pfister CA, Esbaugh AJ, Frieder CA, Baumann H, Bockmon EE, White MM, Carter BR, Benway HM, Blanchette CA, Carrington E, McClintock JB, McCorkle DC, McGillis WR, Mooney TA, Ziveri P. Detecting the unexpected: a research framework for ocean acidification. Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Sep 02; 48(17):9982-94. PMID: 25084232.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    
    27. McCoy SJ, Pfister CA. Historical comparisons reveal altered competitive interactions in a guild of crustose coralline algae. Ecol Lett. 2014 Apr; 17(4):475-83. PMID: 24422586.
      Citations: 16     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    28. Wootton JT, Pfister CA. Experimental separation of genetic and demographic factors on extinction risk in wild populations. Ecology. 2013 Oct; 94(10):2117-23. PMID: 24358695.
      Citations: 15     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    29. Wootton JT, Pfister CA. Carbon system measurements and potential climatic drivers at a site of rapidly declining ocean pH. PLoS One. 2012; 7(12):e53396. PMID: 23285290; PMCID: PMC3532172.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    Translation:PHPublic Health
    30. Pfister CA, McCoy SJ, Wootton JT, Martin PA, Colman AS, Archer D. Rapid environmental change over the past decade revealed by isotopic analysis of the California mussel in the northeast Pacific. PLoS One. 2011; 6(10):e25766. PMID: 21991348; PMCID: PMC3185010.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsPHPublic Health
    31. Barner AK, Pfister CA, Wootton JT. The mixed mating system of the sea palm kelp Postelsia palmaeformis: few costs to selfing. Proc Biol Sci. 2011 May 07; 278(1710):1347-55. PMID: 20961896; PMCID: PMC3061143.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    32. Pfister CA, Meyer F, Antonopoulos DA. Metagenomic profiling of a microbial assemblage associated with the California mussel: a node in networks of carbon and nitrogen cycling. PLoS One. 2010 May 06; 5(5):e10518. PMID: 20463896; PMCID: PMC2865538.
      Citations: 15     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    33. van der Sman J, Phillips NE, Pfister CA. Relative effects of maternal and juvenile food availability for a marine snail. Ecology. 2009 Nov; 90(11):3119-25. PMID: 19967867.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    34. Wootton JT, Pfister CA, Forester JD. Dynamic patterns and ecological impacts of declining ocean pH in a high-resolution multi-year dataset. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 02; 105(48):18848-53. PMID: 19033205; PMCID: PMC2596240.
      Citations: 79     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    35. Morris WF, Pfister CA, Tuljapurkar S, Haridas CV, Boggs CL, Boyce MS, Bruna EM, Church DR, Coulson T, Doak DF, Forsyth S, Gaillard JM, Horvitz CC, Kalisz S, Kendall BE, Knight TM, Lee CT, Menges ES. Longevity can buffer plant and animal populations against changing climatic variability. Ecology. 2008 Jan; 89(1):19-25. PMID: 18376542.
      Citations: 81     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    36. Pfister CA. Intertidal invertebrates locally enhance primary production. Ecology. 2007 Jul; 88(7):1647-53. PMID: 17645011.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    37. Morris WF, Tuljapurkar S, Haridas CV, Menges ES, Horvitz CC, Pfister CA. Sensitivity of the population growth rate to demographic variability within and between phases of the disturbance cycle. Ecol Lett. 2006 Dec; 9(12):1331-41. PMID: 17118007.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    38. Pfister CA. Concordance between short-term experiments and long-term censuses in tide pool fishes. Ecology. 2006 Nov; 87(11):2905-14. PMID: 17168034.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    39. Peacor SD, Bence JR, Pfister CA. The effect of size-dependent growth and environmental factors on animal size variability. Theor Popul Biol. 2007 Feb; 71(1):80-94. PMID: 17056078.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    40. Peacor SD, Pfister CA. Experimental and model analyses of the effects of competition on individual size variation in wood frog (Rana sylvatica) tadpoles. J Anim Ecol. 2006 Jul; 75(4):990-9. PMID: 17009762.
      Citations: 15     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    41. Pfister CA. Extinction, colonization, and species occupancy in tidepool fishes. Oecologia. 1998 Mar; 114(1):118-126. PMID: 28307550.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    
    42. Pfister CA. Patterns of variance in stage-structured populations: evolutionary predictions and ecological implications. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Jan 06; 95(1):213-8. PMID: 9419355; PMCID: PMC34554.
      Citations: 80     Fields:    
    43. Wootton JT, Power ME, Paine RT, Pfister CA. Effects of productivity, consumers, competitors, and El Niño events on food chain patterns in a rocky intertidal community. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Nov 26; 93(24):13855-8. PMID: 11038528; PMCID: PMC19447.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    
    44. Pfister CA, Hay ME. Associational plant refuges: convergent patterns in marine and terrestrial communities result from differing mechanisms. Oecologia. 1988 Oct; 77(1):118-129. PMID: 28312324.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    
    45. Hay ME, Duffy JE, Pfister CA, Fenical W. Chemical Defense Against Different Marine Herbivores: Are Amphipods Insect Equivalents? Ecology. 1987 Dec; 68(6):1567-1580. PMID: 29357161.
      Citations: 19     Fields:    
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