Geoffrey C. Trussell

Chair and Doherty Professor ,  Marine and Environmental Sciences
Director,  Coastal Sustainability Institute & Marine Science Center
Affiliated Faculty,  Civil and Environmental Engineering



  • (781) 581-7370

Research Focus

Evolutionary and community ecology; coastal sustainability


Prof. Trussell’s 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, Prof. Trussell thinks 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 his 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, he also spends 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.

Prof. Trussell’s 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).

Honors & Awards

  • AAAS Fellow
  • Ray Lankester Investigatorship
  • Sigma Delta Tau Outstanding Professor

Research Overview

Evolutionary and community ecology; coastal sustainability

Selected Research Projects

  • Collaborative Research: Adaptation and resiliency of food web structure and functioning in response to environmental change
    • – Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation
  • Coastal Sustainability: Clean, Safe, Smart and Equitable Coastal Communities
    • – Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation
  • Local Adaptation and the Evolution of Plasticity Under Predator Invasion and Warming Seas: Consequences for Individuals, Populations, and Communities
    • – Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation
  • Research Coordination Network: Evolution in Changing Seas
    • – Co-Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation

Selected Publications

  • S.C. Donelan, G.C. Trussell, Sex-Specific Differences in the Response of Prey to Predation Risk, Functional Ecology, 34(6), 2020, 1235-1243
  • S.C. Donelan, G.C. Trussell, The Effects of Embryonic Experience with Predation Risk Vary Across a Wave Exposure Gradient, Ecosphere, 10(4), 2019, e02676
  • C.M. Matassa, P.J. Ewanchuk, G.C. Trussell Cascading Effects of a Top Predator on Intraspecific Competition at Intermediate and Basal Trophic Levels, Functional Ecology, 2018, 1-12
  • S.C. Donelan, G.C. Trussell, Parental and Embryonic Experiences with Predation Risk Affect the Behavior and Performance of their Offspring, Proceedings of Roy. Soc. B., 2018
  • S.C. Donelan, G.C. Trussell, Synergistic Effects of Parental and Embryonic Exposure to Predation Risk on Offspring Size at Emergence, Ecology, 99, 2018, 68-78
  • G.C. Trussell, C.M. Matassa, P.J. Ewanchuk, Moving Beyond Linear Food Chains: Trait-Mediated Indirect Interactions in a Rocky Intertidal Food Web, Proceedings of the Royal Society, 2017