Diana Steller

Diana Steller

Research Faculty

Department: Research Diving, Phycology


email: dsteller@mlml.calstate.edu
phone: (831) 771-4440
office: 421 MLML Main Lab


My broad research interests include the ecology of temperate, subtropical, and carbonate rhodolith reefs with an emphasis on macroalgal ecology, algal physiology and species interactions. I am particularly interested in the role that macroalgae play as a substrate and food resource in subtidal communities and how algal dynamics influence community dynamics.   My research in California kelp forests has focused on examining species interactions with a particular interest in dynamics of the algal community.  Another major area of interest has been examining the distribution, dynamics and ecological role that rhodolith beds play in the north eastern Pacific Ocean.  Rhodoliths are unattached, coralline algae that form large, structured, aggregated habitats on coastal sedimentary bottoms.  This is an understudied ecosystem and I have been involved with developing collaborative research between MLML and CSU faculty and students and Mexican researchers to help better understand the ecology of this system in Pacific Mexico and the Pacific Northeast.  Currently, I am involved with CA Seagrant funded research in California to explore the production and foundational role of rhodolith beds around Catalina Island.  This research aims to develop a suite of metrics to measure with the goal of describing their current status in CA for potential protection.  I am interested in the growth and recovery of carbonate reefs in the past, present and future.  I take M.S. students that are interested in subtidal marine ecology and pushing themselves to develop as experimental, subtidal scientists.


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories courses are committed to exposing students to field research opportunities that will help them develop their research interests.  My teaching at MLML focuses on courses that help students develop the skills and knowledge to safely and productively conduct field research underwater.  I teach marine science diving courses (Marine Science Diving MS105 in fall and a summer intensive course) that help students to meet AAUS research diving standards while exposing them to a wide variety of research techniques.  Subtidal Ecology (MS272) is a course I co-teach and is taught during spring semester in the kelp beds around the Monterey Peninsula.  In this course students learn common organisms and natural history, kelp forest ecology and how to conduct experiments in temperate kelp beds.  Marine Environmental Studies of the Gulf of California (MS 273) is a co-taught field research course that exposes students to international research opportunities in Baja California and Baja California Sur, Mexico.  Taught with the support of local researchers and students, in a variety of field locations, this field intensive class has led to a wide range of collaborative research.  Information about taking these classes can be found at https://www.mlml.calstate.edu/gradprog/current-class-schedule/ and information about the becoming part of our MLML AAUS dive program can be found at https://www.mlml.calstate.edu/diving/.

Research Interests: 
  • Ecology of temperate reefs
  • Ecology of rhodolith beds
Curriculum Vitae:
Selected Publications
  • Gabara, S.S, S.L. Hamilton, M.E. Edwards, D.L. Steller. 2018. Rhodolith structural loss decreases abundance, diversity, and stability of benthic communities at Santa Catalina Island, CA Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol. 595: 71–88, 2018  
  • Tompkins, P.T., D.L. Steller 2016.  Living carbonate habitats in temperate California waters: distribution, growth, and disturbance of Catalina Island rhodoliths. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Series 560:135-145
  • M. Williams, P. Bengtson, D. L. Steller, D. A. Croll, R. W. Davis. 2015. The Healthy heart: lessons from nature’s elite athletes. Physiology, 30 (5) 349-357, DOI: 10.1152/physiol.00017.2015
  • McConnico, L., M.S. Foster, D.L. Steller, R. Riosmena-Rodriguez. 2014. Population biology of a long-lived rhodolith: the consequences of becoming old and large.  Mar. Ecol. Prog. Series 504-109-118.  
  • Foster, M.S., G. Amado-Filho, N. Kamenos, R. Riosmena-Rodriguez, D.L. Steller, 2013, Rhodoliths and rhodolith beds. Smithsonian Contributions to the Marine Sciences, 39: 143-155.  
  • Pearse, J.S., M.H, Carr, C.H. Baxter, J. M. Watanabe, M.S. Foster, D.L. Steller, J.A. Coyer, D.O. Duggins, B. Konar, P.K. Dayton. 2013. Kelp beds as classrooms: lessons and lessons learned. Smithsonian Contributions to the Marine Sciences, 39:133-142.  
  • Riosmena-Rodriguez, R., Steller, D.L., Foster, M.S. and Hinojosa, G. 2010. Biology and conservation of rhodolith beds in the Gulf of California. R. Brusca (ed.). Marine Biodiversity and Conservation in the Gulf of California. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.pp. 49-72.  
  • Steller, D. L., Riosmena-Rodriguez, R. and Foster, M.S. 2009.  Living rhodolith bed ecosystems in the Gulf of California.  In: M.E. Johnson and J. Ledesma-Vázquez (eds.) Atlas of Coastal Ecosystems in the Gulf of California. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. Pp. 72-82.  
  • Steller, D.L., C. Caceres-Martinez, 2009. Coralline algal rhodoliths enhance larval settlement and growth of the commercially important scallop Argopecten ventricosus.  Mar Ecol Prog Series. 396:49-60.  
  • Steller, D.L., M. Hernandez, R. Riosmena-Rodriguez, A. Cabello-Pasini.  2007.  Effect of Temperature on Photosynthesis, Growth and Calcification rates of the Free-living Coralline Alga Lithophyllum margaritaeCiencias Marinas. 33:441-456.  
  • Steller, D.L., Foster, M.S. and Riosmena-Rodriguez, R. 2007. Sampling and monitoring rhodolith beds, p. 93-97. In: Rigby, P.R., Iken, K. and Shirayama, Y. (eds), Sampling biodiversity in coastal communities: NaGISA protocols  for seagrass and macroalgal habitats - A NaGISA handbook. Kyoto University Press, Kyoto, Japan.  
  • Foster, M.S., McConnico, L.M., Lundsten, L, Wadsworth, T., Kimball, T, Brooks, L.B., Medina-Lopez, M. Riosmena-Rodriguez, R., Hernandez-Carmona, G., Vasquez-Slizondo, R.M., Johnson, S. and Steller, D.L.  2007. The diversity and natural history of a Lithothamnion muelleri - Sargassum horridum community in the Gulf of California. Ciencias Marinas 33:367-384.

  • Steller, D.L., R. Riosmena-Rodriguez, M.S. Foster and C.A. Roberts. 2003.  Species assemblages associated with Mexican rhodolith beds: the importance of rhodolith structure.  Aquatic ConservationMarine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 13: S5-S20.  
  • Steller, D. L. 2003. Rhodoliths in the Gulf of California: growth, demography, disturbance and effects on population dynamics of catarina scallops.  Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA.  
  • Zimmerman, R.C., D. L. Steller, D.G. Kohrs and R.S. Alberte.  2001. Top-down impact through a bottom-up mechanism II: in situ effects of limpet grazing on growth, light requirements and survival of Zostera marina L. (eelgrass). Mar Eco Prog Series.  V218:127-140.  
  • Steller, D. L., R. Riosmena-Rodriguez, P.T. Raimondi and M. S. Foster. 1999.  The importance of rhodolith beds as recruitment habitat for the catarina scallop Argopecten ventricosus along the coasts of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico.  In Diving for Science.  1999.  Eds. J.N. Heine, D. Canestro, G. Wuttken.  Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Pgs. 11-124.  
  • Coyer, J.A., D.L. Steller, J.Witman. 1999.  The underwater catalog: a guide to methods in underwater research.  Shoals Marine Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 151 pp.  
  • Zimmerman, R. C., D. G. Kohrs, D. L. Steller, R.S. Alberte. 1997.   Impacts of CO2 enrichment on productivity and light requirements of eelgrass.  Plant Physiology 115(2):599-607.  
  • Steller, D. L., and M. S. Foster. 1995. Environmental factors influencing distribution and morphology of rhodoliths in Bahia Concepcion, B.C.S., Mexico. Jour Exp Mar Bio Eco 194:201-212.  
  • Coyer, J. A., Steller, D. L., Alberte, R. S. 1995. A field-compatible method for extraction of fingerprint-quality DNA from Macrocystis pyrifera (Phaeophyceae).  Journal of Phycology. 31(1):177-180.  
  • Zimmerman, R. C., Kohrs, D. G., Steller, D. L., Alberte, R. S.  1995.  Carbon partitioning in eelgrass: Regulation by photosynthesis and the response to daily light-dark cycles.  Plant Physiology 108(4): 1665-1671.  
  • Steller, D. L. 1993.  The ecology of rhodoliths in the Bahia Concepcion, B.C.S., Mexico.  MS thesis, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, SJSU.  83pp.

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