Mary O'Connor


I study ecological dimensions of global change, with an emphasis on the effects of warming and biodiversity change on complex ecological systems. I also study the effects of changing predator diversity in the ocean, and the consequences of invasive species in marine habitats.

I study the influence of environmental temperature on the dynamics of ecological communities. My work contributes to our understanding of how patterns of species abundance are related to ocean temperature as it varies from place to place, season to season, and with climate change. Currently, I’m exploring how the effects of temperature on individual metabolic rate in turn influence interactions among species or dispersal of marine organisms. I also study the effects of changing predator diversity in the ocean, and the consequences of invasive species in marine habitats.

My research includes:

  • Warming experimental ecosystems to scale up physiological effects of warming to populations and ecosystems
  • Discovering biodiversity and quantifying in blue carbon reserves in Canadian seagrass systems
  • Cross-sector partnerships for detecting and attributing biodiversity change in Canada

Distinguished University Scholar

For Research

University of British Columbia

Steacie Memorial Fellowship

For Research


Steacie Prize

For Research
A comparison of epifaunal invertebrate communities in native eelgrass Zostera marina and non-native Zostera japonica
Marine Biology Research 11:6, 564-571
Knight N.S., C. Prentice, M. Tseng, M.I O'Connor
The body size dependence of trophic cascades
The American Naturalist 185:354-366
DeLong, J.P., Gilbert, B., Shurin, J.B., Savage, V.M., Barton, B.T., Clements, C.F., Dell, A.I., Greig, H.S., Harley, C.D.G., Kratina, P., McCann, K.S., Tunney, T.D., Vasseur, D.A., & O’Connor, M.I.
A bioenergetic framework for the temperature dependence of trophic interactions
Ecology Letters 17:902-914
Gilbert, B., Tunney, T.D., McCann, K.S., DeLong, J.P., Vasseur, D.A., Savage, V., Shurin, J.B., Dell, A.I., Barton, B.T., Harley, C.D.G., Kharouba, H.M., Kratina, P., Blanchard, J.L., Clements, C., Winder, M., Greig, H.S., & O’Connor, M.I
Temperature variation puts species at greater risk under global change
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281:20132612
Vasseur, D.A., DeLong, J.P., Gilbert, B., Grieg, H., Harley, C.D.G., McCann, K.S., O’Connor, M.I., Tunney, T., & Savage, V.
Community ecology in a warming world: the influence of temperature on interspecific interactions in marine systems
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 400:218-226
Kordas, R.L., Harley, C.D.G., & O’Connor, M.I.
Sustainability and Global Seafood
Science. 327: 784-786
Smith, M. D., C. A. Rohiem, L. B. Crowder, B. S. Halpern, M. Turnipseed, J. L. Anderson, F. Asche, L. Bourillon, A. G. Guttormsen, A. Khan, L. A. Liguori, A. McNevin, M. I. O’Connor, D. Squires, P. Tyedmers, C. Brownstein, K. Carden, D. H. Klinger,
Predator richness has no effect in a diverse marine food web
Journal of Animal Ecology. 78: 732-740
O’Connor, M.I. and J. F. Bruno
Warming and resource availability shift metabolism of a marine food web
PLoS Biology 7(8)
O’Connor, M.I., M. F. Piehler, D. M. Leech, A. Anton and J.F. Bruno
Warming strengthens an herbivore-plant interaction: linking individual responses to temperature with changes in community structure
Ecology. 90(2) 388-398
O’Connor, M.I
Ecological and evolutionary insights from species invasions
Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 22:465-471
Sax, D. F., Stachowicz, J. J., Brown, J. H., Bruno, J. F., Dawson, M. N., Gaines, S. D., Grosberg, R. K., Hastings, A., Holt, R. D., Mayfield, M. M., O’Connor, M. I., and Rice, W. R