Dr. Sean Powers


Professor and Chair of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama
Senior Marine Scientist, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Ph.D. 1997, Texas A&M University

Emphasis: Fisheries ecology; conservation and restoration of coastal shellfish and finfish 

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the ecology of coastal/estuarine fishes and benthic invertebrates, particularly those that support commercial and recreational fisheries. The ultimate goal of my research program is to provide scientifically sound information to direct conservation and restoration efforts of marine fisheries and the habitats that these species rely upon. 

Current Funded Projects:

Ecosystem based fisheries management of reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico (National Marine Fisheries Service: MARFIN)

Reef Fish community dynamics in the Alabama Artificial Reef Permit Zone (Sportsman Restoration Fund, State of Alabama, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)

Oyster Reef Restoration and Conservation (National Marine Fisheries Service)

Blue crab and shrimp population studies (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Nearshore ecosystems (NOAA)


Powers, S.P. and K.E. Boyer, 2014.  Marine Restoration Ecology, Ch. 22. In: M.D. Bertness, J.F. Bruno, B.R. Silliman, and J.J. Stachowicz, Eds., Marine community ecology and conservation, Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA
Powers, S.P., F. J. Hernandez, R. H. Condon, J. M. Drymon, and C. M. Free. 2013. Novel pathways for injury from offshore oil spills: direct, sublethal and indirect effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on pelagic Sargassum communities. PLOS One, 8(9): e74802.
Powers, S. P., F. J. Fodrie, S. B. Scyphers, J. M. Drymon, R. L. Shipp, and G. W. Stunz. 2013. Basin-wide decreases in the size of coastal sharks documented by generations of fishermen.  Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science 5: 93-102.
Kim, C. K, K. Park, and S. P. Powers. 2013. Establishing a restoration strategy for eastern oysters via a coupled biophysical transport model. Restoration Ecology 21: 353-362.
Ajemian, M. and S. P. Powers 2012. Habitat specific feeding patterns in cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 95 (1): 79–97.
Fodrie, F. J., M. C. Brodeur, B. J. Toscano, and S. P. Powers. 2012. Friend or Foe: conflicting demands and conditional risk taking by opportunistic scavengers. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 422: 114-121.
Powers, S. P., C. L. Hightower, J. M. Drymon and M. W. Johnson. 2012. Age composition and distribution of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) in offshore waters of the northcentral Gulf of Mexico: An evaluation of  a stock under a harvest moratorium. Fishery Bulletin, 110(3): 283-292.
Scyphers, S. B., S. P. Powers, K. L. Heck, Jr., and D. Byron. 2011. Oyster reefs as natural breakwaters mitigate shoreline loss and facilitate fisheries. PLoS ONE 6:e22396.
Geraldi, N. R. and S. P. Powers. 2011. Subtle changes in prey foraging behavior have cascading effects in a shallow estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 427: 51-58.
Drymon, J. M, S. P. Powers, J. Dindo and T. Henwood. 2010. Distribution of sharks across a continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science 2:440–450.
Geraldi, N. R., S. P. Powers, K. L. Heck, Jr., and J. Cebrian. 2009. Can habitat restoration be redundant? Response of mobile fishes and crustaceans to oyster reef restoration in marsh tidal creeks. Marine Ecology Progress Series 389: 171-180.
Powers, S. P., C. H. Peterson, J. H. Grabowski, and H. S. Lenihan. 2009. Evaluating the success of constructed oyster reefs in no-harvest sanctuaries: implications for restoration. Marine Ecology Progress Series 389: 159-170.
Fodrie, F. J., M. D. Kenworthy and S. P. Powers. 2008. Unintended facilitation between marine consumers generates enhanced mortality for their shared prey. Ecology 89 (12): 3268-3274.
Myers, R. A., J. Buam, T. A. Sheperd, S. P. Powers and C. H. Peterson. 2007. Cascading effects of the loss of apex predatory sharks from the coastal ocean. Science 315: 1846-1850.


Current Graduate Students Research Assistants
Edward Kim - MS Crystal Hightower, MS
Merritt McCall - MS  Deepa Shrestha, MS
  Dylan Kiene, BS
Pearce Cooper - PhD Justin McDonald, BS
T. Reid Nelson - PhD  Reagan Bruno, BS
  Stan Bosarge, MPSGIT
  Trey Spearman, MS