Caitlin Crain


Caitlin is a coastal ecologist with a passion for conservation of our coastal resources. She has worked extensively in the field, using manipulative experiments to determine the community dynamics and drivers of estuarine plant communities. In addition, she has pursued synthetic studies in coastal and marine systems to understand the cumulative impacts of human stressors and provide guidelines for improved conservation and management.

Caitlin is currently a Research Associate in Coastal Sustainability at the San Francisco National Estuarine Research Reserve where she is working on issues surrounding climate adaptation and marsh restoration in the San Francisco Estuary. Previously, Caitlin worked with Stanford's Center for Ocean Solutions on ecological guidelines for Marine Spatial Planning. She taught courses at University of California, Santa Cruz where she was also a postdoctoral fellow funded by The Nature Conservancy’s Global Marine Initiative and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Her postdoctoral work focused on quantifying and ranking human threats in west coast estuaries and understanding how multiple human impacts interact in marine environments.

Caitlin received her PhD from Brown University in 2006. Her dissertation research focused on understanding marsh plant community dynamics across landscape-scale salinity gradients in estuaries, from salt marshes at the coast, to brackish and tidal freshwater marshes upriver. Caitlin examined the shifting role of nutrient limitation, ecosystem engineering plants, positive and negative plant species interactions, and plant herbivory from insects and small mammals within this landscape-level context. Before entering graduate school, Caitlin served as an Americorp Watershed Leader, developing a volunteer stormwater sampling protocol in southern Maine to identify sources of fecal bacterial pollution closing coastal clam flats. Caitlin was a graduate fellow at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maine and received a Walter B. Jones memorial award from NOAA for excellence in coastal and marine graduate research.

Fellow Activity

Fellow at a Glance

Fellowship Year:
Academic Background:
Brown University, Ph.D.
Current Position:
Coastal & Marine Issues
Conservation Science & Biology
Natural Resource Management
Currently Working On:
Coastal Marsh restoration, sea-level rise, coastal climate adaptation

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