John F. Valentine, Ph.D.

John F. Valentine, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Senior Marine Scientist III

Professor, University of South Alabama


Dr. John Valentine serves as the Executive Director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL). Prior to being named the Executive Director, he served as Chair of the Sea Lab’s University Programs. Since arriving at DISL, he has written or co-authored over 95 grant proposals for research. Support for his research has come from both federal and state agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) and The Nature Conservancy. 

In 2015, a research team led by Dr. Valentine was awarded $6.5M to conduct studies on the role of biodiversity in determining the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon accident. More than 75 students, technicians, and post-doctoral students were supported by these efforts. He has been lead or second author on over 70 scientific articles in addition to serving as an academic editor for the scientific journals Marine Ecology Progress Series and PLoSOne. He has also served as a panelist for U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, and NOAA’s National Undersea Research Program. 

In addition to his national leadership in the marine sciences, he currently serves on the Executive Boards of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, and Alabama’s Forever Wild Program. Recently, the Governor’s Water Agencies Working Group charged Dr. Valentine with assessing the impacts of future watershed withdrawal on coastal Alabama resources. Dr. Valentine is also a recent graduate of Leadership Alabama.

Research Interest

My current research interests examine the role of biotic processes, and human perturbations, in controlling the flow of energy among trophic levels both within and between marine habitats, with emphasis on submerged vegetated habitats. This research is being conducted in diverse locations ranging from the lower reaches of the Mobile Bay Delta to the Marine Protected Areas of the northern Florida Keys.

Much of the emphasis of this work is on 1) experimental assessments of grazing intensity in seagrass habitats, 2) responses of seagrasses to this grazing, and 3) the role of omnivory in controlling trophic cascades in marine systems. Newly funded work will examine 1) the degree to which marine production can subsidize the diets adult freshwater piscivorous fishes in oligohaline vegetated habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico, 2) the relative value of infaunal functional groups to demersal fish growth, also in the northern Gulf of Mexico and 3) the indirect effects of the removal of large predatory fishes on the base of seagrass food webs in the Florida Keys. Finally, one planned project will be to investigate the degree to which seagrass detritus can subsidize the productivity of macroinvertebrates in nearby unvegetated habitats.

The overall significance of this research lies in its attempt to understand the processes that control the distribution and productivity of submerged vegetated habitats throughout the western Atlantic Ocean. Because of the widespread occurrence of these habitats, the extraordinary productivity, and richness of their associated biota, an understanding of the factors controlling their distribution and the degree to which they subsidize the productivity of nearby less productive habitats is essential to our understanding of how the overall productivity of nearshore waters is determined.

Ph.D., University of Alabama, 1989

Selected Current Research Grants 

  • Lead PI - Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience. Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (2015-2018). - $6,497,054
  • Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and MESC/Dauphin Island Sea Lab Collaboration - $790,000.00
  • National Science Foundation - "Collaborative Proposal: Gulf Coast ADVANCE:  Cross-Institutional Synergy for Women Scientist - $44,652.00



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