Thomas Klinger, professor, graduate coordinator

Thomas Klinger, professor, graduate coordinator

Thomas Kingler


University of South Florida, Biology


Human Sexuality, Concepts in Biology 1 laboratories, Marine Invertebrates On sabbatical leave during Spring 2016.

Research Interests

Areas of Research Specialization: Invertebrate Zoology, Marine Biology, Animal Nutrition, Physiological Ecology, Behavioral Ecology

My investigations have related to the functional aspects of invertebrate zoology. Most of these studies have focused upon physiological, behavioral, and ecological aspects of nutrition of echinoderms. Recent studies have emphasized impacts of climate change, particularly elevated sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. This work upon novel challenges to sea animals has led to increased involvement in environmental policy and conservation efforts.

2016 was a year for travel. In January, I went to the University of Florida to present our work on religious supports for biodiversity conservation in Taiwan to the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. Then, it was down to Panama to investigate the thermal tolerances of Caribbean and Pacific sea urchins with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Summer was spent at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station training a new generation of marine invertebrate zoologists. I finished the year in the Indian Ocean, where I served on a panel to select the recipient of the Best Mauritian Scientist Award for the Mauritian Research Council of the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Communication.

Research Group Focus

Our investigations have explored functional aspects of invertebrate zoology. Many of these studies have focused upon physiological, behavioral, and ecological aspects of nutrition of echinoderms. The herbivorous sea urchins Lytechinus variegatus, Echinometra lucunter, and Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis have been the subject of many of our investigations, but we have also studied the more carnivorous sea urchin, Eucidaris tribuloides, as well as carnivorous and omnivorous starfish and detritivorous sea cucumbers. This research has highlighted many differences between herbivore, carnivore, and detritivore strategies of feeding and digestion.

In future studies we will continue our investigations of invertebrate nutrition and feeding behavior, particularly as this interfaces with physiological and population ecology. We recently have been integrating our research efforts with agencies involved in the sea urchin fishery. Growth in the sea urchin fishery has out-paced our understanding of sea urchins and the communities in which they reside. Basic research into sea urchin biology has a great deal to offer agencies involved in the sea urchin harvesting industry, and to individuals interested in the mariculture of sea urchins. Special attention currently is being devoted to the describing the impacts of elevated sea surface temperatures and acidities upon the functional well-being of echinoderms and other marine invertebrates.

Representative Publications and Presentations

  • T. S. Klinger, H. Lessios, and A. Calderon. 2017. Thermal tolerances of three species of Echinometra (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) in Panama. Eighth North American Echinoderms Conference, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Andreus, J. M., B. A. Boginsky, K. K. Mercer, J. M. Lawrence, A. L. Lawrence, and T. S. Klinger. 2003. Absorption and storage of nutrients by Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (O. F. Müller) (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) fed artificial feeds. Proceedings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists 5, 28-29.
  • Fountain, M. P., J. M. Hranitz, C. Venn, and T. S. Klinger. 2002. Analysis of VNTR locus variations in two species of gooseneck barnacle (Lepas). Integrative and Comparative Biology 42, 1231.
  • Böttger, S. A., J. B. McClintock, and T. S. Klinger. 2001. Effects of inorganic and organic phosphates on feeding, feeding absorption, nutrient allocation, growth, and righting responses of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. Marine Biology 138, 741-751.
  • Lawrence, J. M. and T. S. Klinger. 2001. Digestion in sea urchins. Pages 103-113 IN: J. M. Lawrence (ed.). Edible Sea Urchins: Biology and Ecology. Elsevier Science, New York.

Representative Theses, Directed Studies, and Departmental Papers

  • Baker, J. 2016. Ecological Niche Overlap between Three Species of Sea Cucumbers: Sclerodactyla briareus, Thyonella gemmata, and Leptosynapta tenuis. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Climent, J. F. 2004. Effects of Naphthalene on Early Developmental Stages of the Green Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (Echinodermata: Echiniodea). Master of Science Thesis.
  • Purcell, K. 2002. Evaluation of Three Methods for Testing Nitrogen Assimilation in Poriferans. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Bernhardt, P. 2002. A Morphometric Comparison of the Pelagic Barnacle, Lepas Anatifera, under Various Environmental Conditions in the Equitorial Pacific Ocean during the 1997-1998 El Nino. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Andreus Sampsell, J. 1999. Gene Flow among Populations of Coral Reef Holothuroids. Master of Science Thesis.