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Derek Burkholder, Ph.D.

Derek Burkholder
Research Associate
Dept. of Marine and Environmental Sciences
(954) 262-3673


  • B.S. - Albion College
  • Ph.D - Florida International University

Areas of Research

My primary research interests are predator-prey behavioral interactions and their impact on both prey populations and the structure of marine communities. My research examines shark community dynamics, foraging patterns, and habitat use/movements of shark communities in south Florida and Australia. I am particularly interested in the cascading effects of large predators and large bodied grazers on benthic and community dynamics.

Burkholder, D.A., Heithaus, M.R., Fourqurean, J.W., Wirsing, A.J. 2013.  Patterns of top-down control in a relatively pristine seagrass ecosystem: could a roving top predator induce a behavior-mediated trophic cascade?  Journal of Animal Ecology. doi: 10.11 11/1365-2656.12097.

Heithaus, M. R., J. J. Vaudo, S. Kreicker, C. A. Layman, M. Krutzen, D. A. Burkholder, K. Gastrich, C. Bessey, R. Sarabia, K. Cameron, A. Wirsing, J. A. Thomson, and M. M. Dunphy-Daly.  2013. Apparent resource partitioning and trophic structure of large-bodied marine predators in a relatively pristine seagrass ecosystem.  Marine Ecology Progress Series. 481: 225-237.

Burkholder, D. A., J. A. Fourqurean, and M. R. Heithaus.  2013.  Spatial pattern in seagrass stoichiometry indicates both N-limited and P-limited regions of a subtropical bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 472: 101-115.

Burkholder, D. A., M. R. Heithaus, and J. A. Fourqurean. 2012. Feeding preferences of herbivores in a relatively pristine subtropical seagrass ecosystem. Marine and Freshwater Research. 63(11): 1051-1058 

Belicka  L. L., D. A.  Burkholder, J. W. Fourqurean, M.R. Heithaus, S. A. Macko and R. Jaffé. 2012.  Stable isotope and fatty acid biomarkers of seagrass, epiphytic, and algal organic matter to consumers in a nearly pristine seagrass ecosystem.  Marine and Freshwater Research.  63(11): 1085-1097.

Thomson, J. A., M. R. Heithaus, D. A. Burkholder, J. J. Vaudo, A. J. Wirsing, and L. M. Dill. 2012. Site specialists, diet generalists? Isotopic variation, site fidelity and foraging by loggerhead turtles in Shark Bay, Western Australia.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 453: 213-226.  

Thomson, J. A., D. A. Burkholder, A. B. Cooper, M. R. Heithaus, and L. M. Dill. 2012. Heterogeneous patterns of availability for detection during visual surveys: spatiotemporal variation in sea turtle dive-surfacing behaviour on a feeding ground.  Methods in Ecology and Evolution 3: 378-387.   

Burkholder, D., M. R. Heithaus, J. Thomson, and J. A Fourqurean. 2011. Diversity in trophic interactions of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) on a relatively pristine coastal foraging ground.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 439:277-293.

Heithaus, E.R., P. A. Heithaus, M. R. Heithaus, D. Burkholder, and C. A. Layman. 2011. Trophic dynamics in a relatively pristine subtropical fringing mangrove community. Marine Ecology Progress Series 428: 49-61.

Heithaus, M. R., A. J. Wirsing, D. Burkholder, J. Thomson, and L. M. Dill. 2009.  Towards a predictive framework for predator risk effects: the interaction of landscape features and prey escape tactics. Journal of Animal Ecology 78: 556-562.

Thomson, J. A., D. Burkholder, M. R. Heithaus, and L. M. Dill.  2009. Validation of a rapid visual-assessment technique for categorizing the body condition of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the field. Copeia 2009: 251-255.

Dunphy-Daly, M.M., Heithaus, M.R., Wirsing, A.J., Mardon, J., Burkholder, D.A. 2010.  Predation risk influences the diving behavior of a marine mesopredator.  The Open Journal of Ecology. (3): 8-15

Heithaus, M. R., A. J. Wirsing, J. Thompson, and D. Burkholder. 2008  A review of lethal and non-lethal effects of predators on adult marine turtles.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 356: 43-51. 

Heithaus, M. R., D. Burkholder, R. E. Hueter, L. I. Heithaus, H. W. Pratt Jr, and J. C. Carrier.  2007.  Spatial and temporal variation in shark communities of the lower Florida Keys and evidence for historical population declines.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 64: 1302-1313.

Heithaus, M. R., A. Fird, A. J. Wirsing, L. M. Dill, J. Fourqurean, D. Burkholder, J. Thomson, and L. Bejder.  2007. State-dependent risk-taking by green sea turtles mediates top-down effects of tiger shark intimidation in a marine ecosystem.  Journal of Animal Ecology 76: 837-844.

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