Skip to Content

Biological Sciences Profiles


Michael Childress

Associate Professor
Undergraduate Program Coordinator for Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Department

Office: 105 Jordan Hall
Phone: 864-985-2384
Email: mchildr@clemson.edu
Personal Website: http://people.clemson.edu/~mchildr/

 

 Educational Background

PhD Biological Sciences
Florida State University 1995

MA Zoology
University of California at Berkeley 1990

BS Biology/Marine Science
University of Tampa 1987

 Courses Taught

BIOL 1010 Frontiers in Biology
BIOL 3940 Something Very Fishy Creative Inquiry
BIOL 4480 Marine Ecology
BIOL 4700 Behavioral Ecology
BIOL 4710 Behavioral Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 4940 Conservation of Marine Resources Creative Inquiry
BIOL 8400 Understanding Biological Inquiry

 Profile

I am an evolutionary behavioral ecologist studying the impact of climate change and behavioral adaptations in marine animals. My teaching and research focuses on understanding the impact of habitat loss on the conservation of marine communities. I enjoy training graduate students, undergraduate students and teachers in the methods of experimental marine ecology.

 Research Interests

Shallow water marine communities are one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. Changes in water quality due to nutrient runoff, freshwater diversion, ocean acidification and global warming are having major impacts on the structure and function of these important communities and the fisheries they support. My research focuses on studying the impact of habitat loss and drought on blue crabs, lobsters and reef fishes along the southeastern US. Through a combination of field surveys, manipulative experiments, laboratory behavioral observations and individual-based modeling our research attempts to build models that can accurately forecast the response of these species to future changes in climate and habitat quality. Behavioral adaptations may be the most important attributes for resilience to habitat loss so more work is needed to understand how behavioral resilience is generated and maintained in these species.

 Extension and Outreach

We have created an elementary school marine science STEAM program called Something Very Fishy. It combines a musical theatre puppet show with a hands-on science exhibit to teach kids about climate change and the impacts on our ocean life. Clemson creative inquiry students design and man these exhibits during a post-performance imaginary field trip through the Florida Keys where the kids explore mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs, transplant corals to the reef, dive to the Aquarius underwater habitat, and help identify live marine invertebrates. Through this program children grades K-5 learn about being a responsible steward for our oceans and how they can make a difference in saving our planet.

 Publications

Smith, K.M., T.G. Payton, R.J. Sims, C.S. Stroud, R.C. Jeanes, T.B. Hyatt, and M.J. Childress. 2019. Impacts of consecutive bleaching events on transplanted coral colonies in the Florida Keys. Coral Reefs. DOI: 10.1007/s00338-019-01823-7

Moody, K.N., J.L.K. Wren, D.R. Kobayashi, M.J. Blum, M.B. Ptacek, R.W. Blob, R.J. Toonen, H.L. Schoenfuss and M.J. Childress. 2019. Evidence of local adaptation in a waterfall climbing Hawaiian goby fish derived from coupled biophysical modeling of larval dispersal and post-settlement selection. BMC Evolutionary Biology DOI: 10.1186/s12862-019-1413-4

Smith, K.M., B.E. Quirk-Royal, K. Drake-Lavelle and M.J. Childress. 2018. Influence of ontogenetic phase and resource availability on parrotfish foraging preferences in the Florida Keys (USA). Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol. 603: 175–187. DOI: 10.3354/meps12718

Baeza, J.A., M.J. Childress and L.J. Ambrosio. 2018. Chemical sensing of microhabitat by pueruli of the reef-dwelling Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus: testing the importance of red algae, juveniles, and their interactive effect. Bulletin of Marine Science 94(3): 603-618. DOI: 10.5343/bms.2017.1132

Baeza, J.A., L. Simpson, L.J. Ambrosio, N. Mora, R. Guéron, and M.J. Childress. 2016. Active parental care, reproductive performance, and a novel egg predator affecting reproductive investment in the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus. BMC Zoology DOI: 10.1186/s40850-016-0006-6

Childress, M.J., K.A. Heldt and S.D. Miller. 2015. Are juvenile Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus) becoming less social? ICES Journal of Marine Science 72 (suppl 1): i164-i169 DOI:10.1093/icesjms/fsv045

Heldt, K.M., W.C. Bridges, Jr. and M.J. Childress. 2015. Behavioral responses to habitat loss in juvenile lobsters. Marine Ecology Progress Series 521:117-128. DOI: 10.3354/meps11125

Moody, K.N., S.N. Hunter, M.J. Childress, R.W. Blob, H.L. Schoenfuss, M.J. Blum and M.B. Ptacek. 2015. Local adaptation despite high gene flow in the waterfall-climbing Hawaiian goby, Sicypoterus stimpsoni. Molecular Ecology 24:545-563. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13016

Parmenter, K.J., P.A. Vigueira, C.K. Morlok, J.A. Micklewright, K.M. Smith, K.S. Paul and M.J. Childress. 2013. Seasonal prevalence of Hematodinium sp. infections of blue crabs in three South Carolina (USA) rivers. Estuaries and Coasts 36:174–191.

Seda, J.B., M.B. Ptacek and M.J. Childress. 2012. Individual variation in male size and behavioral repertoire in the sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna. Ethology 118(4):411–421.

Ptacek, M.B., M.J. Childress, J.A. Petersen and A.O. Tomasso. 2011. Phylogenetic evidence for the gain and loss of a sexually selected trait in sailfin mollies. ISRN Zoology doi:10.5402/2011/251925

Zito-Livingston, A.N. and M.J. Childress. 2009. Does conspecific density influence the settlement of Caribbean spiny lobster postlarvae? New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43:313-325.

Silbiger, N.J. and M.J. Childress. 2008. Interspecific variation in anemone shrimp distribution and host selection in the Florida Keys (USA): implications for marine conservation. Bulletin of Marine Science 82:329-345.

 Links

Childress Lab Home Page
Childress Lab Coral Reef Research
Childress Lab Marine Biology Outreach
Conservation of Marine Resources CI Blog