Biology & Marine Biology

Faculty & Staff

Michael J. Durako, Professor

photo of Dr. Michael J. DurakoPh.D., University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
M.A., University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
B.S., Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
Myrtle Grove 2337 | (910) 962-2373 | Center for Marine Science, 5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane, Wilmington, NC 28409-5928 | |

My research centers on physiological ecology, reproductive biology, demographics, and clonal biology of seagrasses. For the past 10 years, I have been involved in shoot-level to landscape-level studies of the subtropical seagrass communities of South Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. This research in Florida Bay was initiated in response to the catastrophic die-offs of seagrasses, initiated in the late 1980s, and water-quality concerns in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Shoot-level studies have examined effects of high light and light reduction, salinity changes, and microbial infection on physiological and demographic characteristics of seagrasses. The landscape-level research has provided spatially-explicit distribution, abundance, and structural data to assess responses of benthic macrophyte communities to possible future management alterations in the South Florida ecosystem. Related seagrass research has been directed towards the assessment of potential macrophyte-based ecoindicators of estuarine condition, development of biotechnological approaches to wetland restoration, and examination of the stress responses of seagrass communities.

Recently, I have initiated several research efforts dealing with light and photosynthesis in aquatic systems. Work in S.E. North Carolina has focused on an examination of the spatial and temporal variability in the bio-optical properties of the Cape Fear River plume and the coastal waters of Onslow Bay. This work has involved spectral analyses of inherent and apparent optical properties of coastal waters using ship-board and lab-based instrumentation and satellite data. Work in south Florida has investigated the effects of light on photosynthetic characteristics and distribution patterns of seagrasses in Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay and along the lagoons systems of eastern Florida. These studies have revealed the presence of 'sunscreen' pigments in a shallow-distributed seagrass that may allow this species to exploit intertidal areas without competing seagrasses. With the introduction of optically-based field instrumentation to measure photosynthetic characteristics, I have begun research in the area of plant bio-optics to better understand how light interacts with photosynthetic organisms.

Gavin, N. M., Durako, M. J. 2011. Localization and antioxidant capacity of flavonoids from intertidal and subtidal Halophila johnsonii and Halophila decipiens. Aquat. Bot. 95: 242-247

Durako, M. J., Kowalczuk, P., Mallin, M. A., Cooper, W. J., Souza, J. J., Wells, D. H., 2010. Spatial and temporal variations in photosynthetically-significant optical properties and water quality in a coastal blackwater river plume. Estuaries & Coasts 33: 1430- 1441.

Kowalczuk, P., Cooper, W. J., Gonsior, M., Durako, M. J., Young, H., Kahn, A. E. 2010. Characterization of dissolved organic matter fluorescence in the South Atlantic Bight using the PARAFAC model: Relationships between fluorescence and its components, absorption coefficients and organic carbon concentrations. Marine Chemistry 118: 22-36.

Durako, M. J., Chartrand, K. M. 2009. Changes in spectral reflectance in response to salinity variation in Siderastrea radians from Florida Bay, Florida USA. Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, pp 607-610.

Kahn, A. E., Durako, M. J. 2009. Wavelength-specific photosynthetic responses of Halophila johnsonii from marine versus riverine-influenced habitats. Aquatic Botany 91: 245-249.

Chartrand, K. M., Durako, M. J., Blum, J.E. 2009. Effect of hypo-salinity on the photophysiology of Siderastrea radians. Marine Biology 156: 1691-1702

Kowalczuk, P., Durako, M. J., Young, H., Kahn, A. E., Cooper, W. J., Gonsior, M. 2009. Characterization of dissolved organic matter fluorescence in the South Atlantic Bight with use of PARAFAC model: Inter-annual variability. Marine Chemistry 113: 182-196.

Chartrand, K. M., Durako, M. J. 2009. Distribution and photobiology of Siderastrea radians and Thalassia testudinum in Florida Bay, FL USA. Bulletin of Marine Science 84(2):153-166

Kahn, A. E., Durako, M. J., 2009. Photosynthetic tolerances to desiccation of the co-occurring seagrasses Halophila johnsonii and Halophila decipiens. Aquatic Botany 90: 195-198.

Kahn, A. E., Durako, M. J. 2008. Photophysiological responses of Halophila johnsonii to experimental hyposaline and hyper-CDOM conditions. J. Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 367: 230-235.

Meng, Y. Krzysiak, A. J., Durako, M. J., Kunzelman, J. I., Wright, J. L. C. 2008. Flavones and flavone glycosides from the sea grass Halophila johnsonii. Phytochemistry 69: 2603-2608.

Belshe, E. F., Durako, M. J., Blum, J. E. 2008. Diel light curves and landscape-scale variation in photosynthetic characteristics of Thalassia testudinum in Florida Bay. Aquatic Botany 89:16-22.

Lin, J., Xie, L., Pietrafesa, L.J., Xu, H., Woods, W., Mallin, M. A., Durako, M.J. 2008. Water quality modeling in the Cape Fear River estuary and its adjacent coastal region, North Carolina. Ecological Modeling 212: 200-217.

York, R. A., Durako, M. J., Kenworthy, W. J., Freshwater, D. W. 2008. Megagametogenesis in Halophila johnsonii Eiseman and Halophila decipiens Ostenfeld (Hydrocharitaceae). Aquatic Botany 88:277-282.

Durako, M. J. 2007. Leaf optical properties and leaf-specific photosynthetic absorptances in several Australian seagrasses. Aquatic Botany 87: 83-89.

Dean, R. J., Durako, M. J. 2007. Physiological integration in the threatened seagrass Halophila johnsonii Eiseman. Bulletin of Marine Science 81(1):21-35.

Ralph, P.J, Durako, M. J., Enriquez, S., Collier, C., Doblin, M.A. 2007. Impact of light limitation on seagrasses. Journal Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology, 350-176-193.

Belshe, E. F., M. J. Durako, and J.E. Blum. 2007. Photosynthetic rapid light curves (RLC) of Thalassia testudinum exhibit diurnal variation. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 342: 253-268.

Kowalczuk, P. Durako, M.J., Cooper, W.J., Wells, D., Souza, J.J. 2006. Comparison of radiometric quantities measured in water and above water and derived from SeaWiFS imagery in the South Atlantic Bight. Continental Shelf Research 26: 2433-2453.

Lin, J., Xie, L., Pietrafesa, L.J., Shen, J., Mallin, M., Durako, M. 2006. Dissolved oxygen stratification in two micro-tidal partially-mixed estuaries. Est. Coastal Shelf Sci. 70: 423-437

Kahn, A. E. And M. J. Durako. 2006. Thalassia testudinum seedling responses to changes in salinity and nitrogen. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 335: 1-12.

Kahn, A. E. And M. J. Durako. 2005. The effect of salinity and ammonium on seed germination in Ruppia maritima L. From Florida Bay. Bull. Mar. Sci. 77(3): 453-458.

Torquemada, Y. F., Durako, M. J., Lizaso, J. L. S. 2005. Salinity effects and possible interactions with pH and temperature on photosynthesis and growth of Halophila johnsonii Eiseman. Mar. Biol. 148: 251-260.

Kunzelman, J. I., Durako, M. J., Kenworthy, W. J., Stapleton, A., Wright, J. C. L. 2005. Irradiance-induced changes in the photobiology ofHalophila johnsonii Eiseman. Mar. Biol. 148: 241-250.

Kowalczuk, P., J. Stoń-Egiert, W.J Cooper, R.F. Whitehead, and M.J. Durako. 2005. Characterization of CDOM in the Baltic Sea by excitation-emission matrix spectroscopy. Marine Chemistry 96: 273-292.

Van Sluyter, S., M.J. Durako, and C. J. Halkides. 2005. Chitinase activities in Vitis vinifera cvs Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon berries are significantly higher than in Vitis rotundifolia cv Fry berries. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 56(1):81-85.

Hackney, J. W. and M. J. Durako. 2005. A hierarchical approach to the evaluation of variability in ecoindicators of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum. In: S.A. Bortone (ed) Estuarine Indicators, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. pp. 175-192.

Durako, M. J. and J. W. Hackney. 2004. Size-frequency patterns in morphometric characteristics of the seagrass Thalassia testudinumreflect environmental variability. Ecological Indicators 4: 55-71.

Runcie, J. W. and M. J. Durako. 2004. Among-shoot variability and leaf-specific absorptance characteristics affect diel estimates of in situ electron transport of Posidonia australis. Aquatic Botany 80: 209-220.

Whitfield, P. E., W. J. Kenworthy, M. J. Durako, K. K. Hammerstrom, and, M. F. Merello. 2004. Recruitment of Thalassia testudinum seedlings into physically disturbed seagrass beds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 267: 121-131.

Mallin, M. A. Mallin, L. B. Cahoon, and, M. J. Durako. 2004. Contrasting food-web support bases for adjoining river-influenced and non-river influenced continental shelf ecosystems. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 62: 55-62.

Durako, M. J., J. I. Kunzelman, W. J. Kenworthy, and K. K. Hammerstrom. 2003. Depth-related variability in the photobiology of Halophila johnsonii and Halophila decipiens. Marine Biology 142: 1219- 1228.

Murphy, L. R., S. T. Kinsey, and M. J. Durako. 2003. Physiological effects of short-term salinity changes on Ruppia maritima. Aquat. Bot. 75: 293-309.

Durako, M. J., and J. I. Kunzelman. 2002. Photosynthetic characteristics of Thalassia testudinum Banks ex König measured in situ by pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry: methodological and scale-based considerations. Aquat. Bot. 73: 173-185.