Wenwen Liu moving back to China

We wish all the best to Wenwen as he moves back to China to finish his PhD. While visiting Houston he made great progress on several manuscripts that we’re very excited about. Most are comparisons of the ecology of Spartina alterniflora in its native range in the US and its introduced range in China, but Wenwen also worked on some of the GCE-LTER long-term datasets.  We hope to get a lot of these papers published in 2019.


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Recent media coverage about work in the Pennings lab

UH has done some recent stories about the UH Coastal Center and about our work in the mangroves.

Video about the UH Coastal Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJWx4zwJibc&feature=youtu.be

Story about our work in the mangroves: http://stories.uh.edu/mangroves/

Brief radio interview with Steve about our work in the mangroves: https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/shows/uh-moment/2019/03/08/324613/uh-moment-mangroves-coastal-savior/

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Three new papers from the Pennings lab

Three new papers of note from the Pennings lab:

Huy Vu and Steve published a paper in Ecosphere about how the threat of predators affects herbivory by Sesarma crabs. Specifically, whether they feed more aboveground or belowground.  Ecosphere 9(2):e02107.

Chelse Prather, Angela Laws, Juan Cuellar, Steve and Chelse’s students published a paper in Ecology Letters about how grassland insects are co-limited by macronutrients and sodium. Ecology Letters 21:1467-1476.

Angela, Chelse and Steve published a paper in Journal of Animal Ecology about whether grasshopper composition or diversity determines effects on plant communities. JAE 87:1727-1737.


Good work everyone!

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Steve visits Hongyu in China

In September Steve traveled to Tianjin, China, to visit his old student Hongyu Guo. It was great to see him and also to see his wife Yinhua and their daughter Serena. Shanze Li, who spent time in Steve’s lab in Houston as a visiting graduate student, also joined us for lunch one day from Beijing. Near Tianjin is the Qilihai wetland, a large Phragmites wetland that is also a location of extensive aquaculture of the famous mitten crabs, which we sampled at a memorable lunch that also included grasshoppers, beetles, shrimp and other delicacies.

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Video and story about the micronutrient project at the UHCC


We’re excited about progress on our micronutrient experiment at the UH Coastal Center, and here’s an article and video with an update.




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Congratulations Wei-Ting!


Congratulations to Wei-Ting Lin, who earned her PhD this fall. We wish her the best in her future endeavors!

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Steve and collaborators get RAPID grant to study marshes and mangroves as hurricane defenses

Steve, Anna Armitage and John Kominoski recently received a RAPID grant from NSF to compare marshes and mangroves with respect to how well they protect coasts from severe weather like hurricanes. The work builds on their ongoing mangrove density experiment in Port Aransas. They have plots ranging from 0 to 100 percent mangrove cover, and Hurricane Harvey basically passed directly over the plots. This provided a great opportunity to see how the storm effects varied with mangrove density. This weekend we’re out sampling vegetation, erosion, and decomposition in the plots. There is a lot of debris–telephone poles, dock sections, and parts of a house–in the plots. The city of Port Aransas looks hammered, with lots of houses and businesses destroyed. And a barge exploded off the coast overnight.  Not our fault, honest!

The photo below shows a house section in one of our plots.

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