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Steven C. Pennings

Department of Biology and Biochemistry

University of Houston

Houston, TX 77204-5001

Email: scpennin (at)

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-4757-7125

You can find my publications on my google scholar page

You’re welcome to email me if you would like pdf copies of publications.


I have two current research programs. You can find papers on these topics and others on my google scholar page.

1. Long-term change in Georgia salt marshes. I work with the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long-Term Ecological Research program to study long-term change in Georgia marshes. I study interactions among plants and invertebrates, effects of climate on plants and invertebrates, and how marshes are affected by different kinds of disturbance. For more information, see the GCE-LTER web site.

2. Marsh-mangrove interactions. I work with Anna Armitage at Texas A&M Galveston and other collaborators to study the expansion of mangroves on the Texas coast. Mangroves spread during warm periods, out-competing salt marsh plants, changing the wetland food web, and altering coastal geomorphology. They die back when there are hard freezes. For more information see our project web site.

Past research. In the past, I’ve worked on the ecology of “sea hares” (herbivorous marine gastropods), parasitic plants in the genus Cuscuta, and on plant-herbivore interactions in both marine and intertidal habitats.


I’m currently teaching Introduction to Ecology (most spring semesters) and Invertebrate Zoology (most fall semesters).

Introduction to Ecology. Ecology is the study of interactions among organisms, and between organisms and the environment. It is a broad field that includes many levels of biological organization, including individuals (behavior and physiology), populations (population dynamics), communities (collections of species) and ecosystems (communities and their abiotic environment). As such, it incorporates a wider range of concepts, questions and approaches than many other biological disciplines. Ecology provides the conceptual framework for dealing with a wide range of environmental problems facing humanity. This course provides a broad introduction to the field of ecology and prepares students for more advanced courses in ecology. If you are interested in a career in ecology, you should take this course as a sophomore so that you have time to take more advanced courses later. If you are taking it as a random elective, you can take it your junior or senior year.

Invertebrate Zoology. The vast majority of multicellular species in the world are invertebrates. This course will survey the major higher groups of invertebrates, emphasizing their key adaptations to different modes of life. The course will include a variety of hands-on activities, including collecting and observing local invertebrates, and observations of basic anatomy. There is a lot of material, because of the diversity of life, but it is not conceptually demanding, so you can take this course early in your college career.

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