Kenneth Sebens

  • Professor, SAFS
  • Professor, UW Department of Biology

Research areas

My research focuses on marine benthic ecology, coral reef ecology, hydrodynamic effects on marine benthos, and theoretical ecology. Since 1979, I have worked on a research project that follows the community and population dynamics of the rocky subtidal zone in Massachusetts—one of the most extensive, long-running studies of marine coastal habitats in the world. I conduct similar work on rocky subtidal communities in the San Juan Islands. My research on coral ecology has focused on the diverse sources of nutrition for reef corals and the influence of hydrodynamics on coral particle capture and nutrient uptake from seawater, calcification and growth rate.

Community Engagement and Awards

Advisory Boards

  • BOAC (Board on Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate), Assoc. of Public and Land-Grant Universities, member (2011-present)
  • NAML (Natl. Association of Marine Laboratories), Board Member (2006 – present)


  • Fulbright Senior Scholar, Award for 1998 – 1999
  • Dennis Willows Director’s Endowed Professorship, UW (2011-present)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1986
  • Mercer Award, Ecological Society of America, 1983 for “Outstanding Ecological Paper, 1982”

Selected publications

  • 2014. Elahi, R. and K.P. Sebens. Redundancy among invertebrate grazers leads to non-additive consequences for benthic community structure: a candidate mechanism for the maintenance of urchin barrens. Submitted to PLoS One (in press).

  • 2014. Elahi, R., Dwyer, T., Turner, K.R., Birkeland, C.B., and K.P. Sebens. Four decades, few changes: can subtidal rock walls serve as refuges from biodiversity loss? Marine Biology (in press).

  • 2014. Elahi, R. and K. Sebens. Mesoscale variability in oceanographic retention sets the abiotic stage for subtidal benthic diversity. Marine Ecology Progress Series (submitted, in revision).

  • 2012. Elahi, R. and K. P. Sebens. Consumers mediate natural variation between prey richness and resource use in a benthic marine community (in press at Marine Ecology Progress Series).

  • 2012. Sebens, K.P., G. Bernardi , M.R. Patterson, and D. Burkepile. Saturation Diving and Underwater Laboratories: How Underwater Technology Has Aided Research on Coral Biology and Reef Ecology. In: M. Lang ed. Research and Discoveries: The Revolution of Science through Scuba. Smithsonian Institution Press (in press).