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Ben Titus

Ben is doing his PhD at The Ohio State University on the comparative phylogeography of multi-level sea anemone symbioses on Caribbean coral reefs. As biodiversity hotspots, coral reefs achieve much of their success and diversity from a network of symbiotic interactions. While this reliance on symbiosis is well recognized, we know very little about how biodiversity evolves in these complex multi-level relationships over time and space. Ben is interested in how variation in host specificity among crustacean symbionts is associated with co-diversification with anemone hosts across the entire Caribbean region. Symbiotic study systems should be especially important for disentangling the extrinsic factors that shape whole communities (i.e. ocean currents, sea level) from intrinsic contributions of organismal biology (i.e. dispersal ability, life history), and thus, shed light on the factors that generate and maintain biodiversity within species and ecosystems. When time permits, Ben pursues field-based research on the ecologically important cleaning interactions between cleaner shrimp and client reef fish.

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