Dr. Rachel Gittman

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, East Carolina University

Flanagan 2208

Phone: 252-328-9986
Fax: 252-328-4178
Email: gittmanr17@ecu.edu



Ph.D., Ecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2014
B.S., Environmental Science, Specialization Conservation Biology, University of Virginia, 2006

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in understanding how humans modify the coastal environment and how best to manage or mitigate the ecological consequences of those modifications to sustain ecosystem structure, functions, and services. I am particularly excited about identifying novel approaches for conserving and restoring coastal habitats and supported services in the context of developed coastal areas (e.g. evaluating designs and implementation of living shorelines, testing the methods and criteria for successful ecosystem restoration). Through collaborations with fellow ecologists, social scientists, policymakers, and coastal engineers, I am continuing to explore the ecological and social drivers of coastal development and associated shoreline hardening, as well as identifying ecological, engineering, political, and socioeconomic barriers to the implementation of natural and nature-based alternatives. Additionally, I am currently investigating the role of facilitation and novel materials in determining success or failure of coastal habitat restoration. I am also part of an interdisciplinary and cross-sector working group focused on synthesizing data on coastal habitat restoration projects to inform decision-making and development of achievable metrics and approaches for aligning ecological and social restoration goals.

Selected Publications

Keller D.A., Gittman R.K., Bouchillon R., Fodrie F. J. 2017. Life stage and species identity determine whether habitat subsidies enhance or simply redistribute secondary production. Journal of Animal Ecology 00:1–10. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12745

Gittman R.K., Fodrie F.J., Baillie C.J., Brodeur M.C., Currin C.A., Keller D.A., Kenworthy M.D., Morton, J., Ridge J.T., Zhang, Y.S. 2017. Living on the edge: increasing patch size enhances resilience of restored salt marsh to inundation stress. Estuaries and Coasts. DOI 10.1007/s12237-017-0302-6

Fodrie F.J., Rodriguez A.B., Gittman R.K., Grabowski J.H., Lindquist N.L., Peterson C.H., Piehler M.F., and Ridge J.T. 2017. Oyster reefs as carbon sources and sinks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20170891. DOI: 10.1098.rspb.2017.0891

Grabowski J.H., Conroy C. W., Gittman R.K., Kelley J.T., Sherman S., Sherwood G.D., and Wippelhauser G. 2017. Habitat associations of juvenile cod in nearshore waters. Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture. DOI:10.1080/23308249.2017.1328660

Smith C.S., Gittman R.K., Neylan I.P., Scyphers S.B., Morton, J. P., Fodrie F.J., Grabowski J.H., and Peterson, C.H. 2017. Hurricane damage along natural and hardened estuarine shorelines: Using homeowner experiences to promote nature-based coastal protection. Marine Policy 81: 350-358. DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2017.04.013.

Gittman R.K., Scyphers S.B., Smith C.S., Neylan I.P., and Grabowski J.H. 2016. Ecological consequences of shoreline hardening: a meta-analysis. BioScience 66(9): 763-773. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biw091

Gittman R.K., Peterson C.H., Currin C.A., Fodrie F.J., Piehler M.F., and Bruno J.F. 2016. Living       shorelines can enhance the nursery role of threatened coastal habitats. Ecological Applications 26(1): 249-263. DOI: 10.1890/14-0716

Gittman R.K., Fodrie F.J., Popowich A.M., Keller D.A., Bruno J.F., Currin C.A., Peterson C.H., and Piehler M.F. 2015. Engineering away our natural defenses: an analysis of shoreline hardening in the United States. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(6): 301-307. DOI: 10.1890/150065

Gittman R.K., Popowich A.M., Bruno J.F., and Peterson C.H. 2014. Marshes with and without sills protect estuarine shorelines from erosion better than bulkheads during a Category 1 hurricane. Ocean and Coastal Management 102: 94-102. DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2014.09.016

Fodrie F.J., Rodriguez A.B., Baillie C.J., Brodeur M.C., Coleman S.E., Gittman R.K., Kenworthy M.D., Poray A. K., Ridge J.T., Theuerkauf E.J., and Lindquist N.L. 2014. Classic paradigms in a novel environment: inserting food web and productivity lessons from rocky shores and saltmarshes into biogenic reef restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 51 (5): 1314-1325. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12276.

Rodriguez A.B., Fodrie F.J., Ridge J.T., Lindquist N.L., Theuerkauf E.J., Coleman S.E., Grabowski J.H., Brodeur M.C., Gittman R.K., Keller D.A., and Kenworthy, M.D. 2014. Oyster reefs can outpace sea level rise. Nature Climate Change 4 (6): 493-497. DOI:10.1038/nclimate2216

Gittman R.K. and Keller D.A. 2013. Fiddler crabs facilitate Spartina alterniflora growth, mitigating periwinkle overgrazing of marsh habitat. Ecology 94 (12): 2709-2718. DOI: 10.1890/13-0152.1