WE STUDY THE ECOLOGY OF POPULATIONS and communities of marine and estuarine animals that live on the seafloor or in the seafloor sediments.

These bottom-dwelling or benthic organisms are important in marine food webs and include many species, such as crabs, lobsters, clams, mussels, scallops, and seaweeds that are harvested for food or other uses by man. Present projects focus on predator control of recruitment, coupling population dynamics to tidal currents, the effects of climate and coastal land-use changes on species invasions, and the movement of contaminants through food webs in restored marshes.


Dr. Richard Osman/ Senior Scientist
Smithsonian Environmental
Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Phone: 443-482-2213
Fax: 443-482-2380
Email: osmanr@si.edu
Curriculum Vitae

What is Benthic Ecology?

Benthic ecology encompasses the study of the organisms living in and on the sea floor, the interactions between them and impacts on the surrounding environment. The benthos (the organisms as well as the rocks, reefs, and sediments that form the habitat) is an extremely valuable component of marine and estuarine environments. Benthic systems are important to recycling of nutrients and the burial and storage of organic matter. Human impacts, such as the introduction of non-native species, the modification of coastal habitats, and major alterations of biogeochemical cycles threaten many coastal systems.