Nikki with plankton net

Nikki Dix, Ph.D.

Research Director

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Nikki Dix is the Research Director at the GTM Research Reserve. Nikki grew up in the sunshine state, attended Florida State University for her B.S. degree and the University of Florida for her M.S. and Ph.D. Her research interests involve understanding how ecosystems respond to natural and anthropogenic change with the intent of informing natural resource management. In graduate school she managed the nutrient component of the Research Reserve’s System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) through a contract with the University of Florida. With support from a NOAA Graduate Research Fellowship, Nikki used SWMP data, laboratory-based experiments, and oyster reef sampling to investigate the impacts of hurricanes and eutrophication in the GTM estuary. After graduating, Nikki spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce, Florida investigating relationships between phytoplankton and zooplankton in the Indian River Lagoon.

As Research Director at the GTM Research Reserve, Nikki establishes research priorities and oversees monitoring programs in the context of regional, state, and national objectives. Currently, the majority of research efforts are focused on monitoring abiotic (e.g., salinity, temperature, oxygen, rainfall, nutrients) and biotic (e.g., salt marsh vegetation, mangroves, plankton, oysters) parameters within the Reserve to understand how the ecosystem changes with respect to natural and anthropogenic influences. Nikki also facilitates the research activities of visiting investigators and works to develop collaborations between, scientists, managers, educators, and the public. Some exciting research collaborations include examining the ability of oyster reefs to filter microscopic algae at an ecosystem scale; evaluating the success of oyster and salt marsh habitat restoration; and, investigating potential ecosystem impacts of the northern mangrove migration through salt marsh habitats.