Geoffrey Trussell

Geoffrey TrussellProfessor and
Chair of the Marine and Environmental Sciences Department (MES)

Evolutionary and Community Ecology

Marine Science Center
430 Nahant Road
Nahant, MA 01908 USA
781.581.7370, x300

Academic Education

  • Ph.D., College of William & Mary, Marine Science
  • M.S., University of New Hampshire, Zoology
  • A.B., Bowdoin College, Biology and Environmental Studies


  • Director, Marine Science Center (2009 – Present)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Biology (2008 – Present)
  • Associate Director, Marine Science Center (2007 – 2009)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biology (2002 – 2008)

Other Professional Activities

  • Handling Editor, Oecologia (2007-present)
  • Academic Editor, PLoS ONE (2008-present).
  • Member, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) Working Group, “When, and how much, does fear matter”? Quantitatively assessing he impact of predator intimidation of prey on community dynamics” (2005-2007)
  • Member, Census of Marine Life, Gulf of Maine Working Group (2005)
  • Member, Coordinating Research on the North Atlantic (CORONA) Working group (2001-2005)
  • Member, American Society of Naturalists, Ecological Society of America, Society for the Study of Evolution

Research Interests

My research program currently focuses on a number of important issues in evolutionary, community and ecosystem ecology. These interests are being explored in a number of systems including rocky intertidal shores, old fields, and freshwater amphibian communities. In a nutshell, I think interesting questions are far more important than interesting systems but, of course, if one can have both then things are that much better! Much of our current work emphasizes the evolutionary and ecological significance of predation risk, with an emphasis on the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and inducible defenses, the ecological significance of nonconsumptive predator effects, and the influence of trait-mediated indirect interactions on community dynamic and ecosystem function. However, we also spend a good amount of time on other topics including the factors influencing invasive and exotic plant diversity in terrestrial systems, the influence of species diversity on ecosystem function, and the impact of climate change on natural food webs.

My research is highly collaborative and involves some outstanding colleagues including Oswald Schmitz (Yale University), Barney Luttbeg (Oklahoma State University), Matthew Bracken (Northeastern University), Steve Vollmer (Northeastern University), Lee Smee (Texas A&M), Jeremy Long (San Diego State University) and Osamu Kishida (Hokkaido University).

Teaching Activities

I currently teach two courses, Ecology and Experimental Design in Marine Ecology. My Ecology course is taught on Northeastern’s Boston Campus and provides students with a rigorous introduction to the field with a strong emphasis on theory and experiments that test foundational ecological concepts. The course provides a broad perspective on classical works but also emphasizes cutting-edge research that is being generated every day in the primary literature. Experimental Design in Marine Ecology is a hands-on course that emphasizes design principles and the statistical analysis of ecological data. This is a demanding course aimed at advance undergraduates and beginning graduate students. Students receive considerable exposure to a variety of analytical techniques including various permutations of analysis of variance (ANOVA), factorial, repeated measures and multivariate ANOVA, analysis of covariance, as well as model selection approaches. In addition, students taking this course design and perform an experiment during the semester that culminates in a manuscript that, ideally, is suitable for submission to a scientific journal.