Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Ana Beardsley-Christensen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Lamar University
Department of Biological Science
Email: ana.christensen@lamar.edu

Research Interest

I am primarily an invertebrate physiologist, specializing in factors affecting respiration in estuarine and marine organisms (especially the echinoderms). I am also interested in the occurrence of respiratory pigments (such as hemoglobin) in invertebrate organisms and determining how it benefits the organism (i.e. is it used in transporting oxygen, oxygen storage, or some other function?). My current interest is in the occurrence of hemoglobin in the ophiuroids (more commonly called brittle stars). Past research centered on defining the biochemical properties of the hemoglobins of Hemipholis elongata (Echinodermata, Ophiuroidea) and describing a novel system of oxygen transport in this species. Current research efforts are addressing the sequence of the hemoglobin gene and its expression patterns.  Another area of interest currently being explored is the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on the brittle stars.  My lab has been testing the effects of variables such as increased temperature and CO2 and decreased pH on the molecular level up to whole animal metabolism and behavior.

As a recreational scuba diver, I am concerned with the rapidly increasing range and abundance of lionfish.  While beautiful, these voracious predators are having measurable impacts on marine ecosystems from the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts, extending down through the Meso-American reef and Caribbean.  As they have no natural predators in these regions, their populations rapidly increase.  There is a need for increased research in order to monitor and control these predators.