Tankersley, Richard

Biological Sciences

Educational Background

B.A. Wake Forest University 1984
M.S. Florida State University 1987
Ph.D. Wake Forest University 1992

Professional Experience

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, 2005-present.

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, 1999-2005

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), 1995-1999

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, 1993-1995

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC, 1992-1993

Current Research

Recruitment Behavior of Larval Crabs:

The larval stages of many estuarine crabs return to adult habitats from coastal waters by undergoing rhythmic vertical migrations, which result in saltatory up-estuary transport. We are currently investigating the mechanisms mediating this behavior in several species of fiddler crabs (Uca) and commercially important blue crabs and (Callinectes sapidus) and stone crabs (Menippe mercenaria). We are also examining the use of tidal currents by early stage larvae (zoeae) for down-estuary transport to offshore development areas.

Role of Environmental and Chemical Cues in Habitat Selection:

We are examining the chemical and physical cues postlarvae and juvenile crabs use to locate and settle in estuarine nursery habitats. Lab and field tests are used to determine the sources of stimulatory chemical cues and the concentration ranges that mediate behaviors associated with habitat location, acceptance and settlement. However, our studies are not limited to crustaceans and include other ecologically and economically important estuarine species, including horseshoe crabs Limulus polyphemus.

Migration and Selective Tidal-Stream Transport Behavior of Ovigerous Blue Crabs:

A common behavioral pattern among decapod crustaceans is to migrate, sometimes long distances, from adult habitats to spawning areas to release larvae. Using the blue crab Callinectes sapidus as a model, we are currently examining the role of exogenous and endogenous cues in controlling this behavior. We are also interested in the links between migration and larval hatching and have recently completed studies investigating role of endogenous clocks in determining the timing of larval release.

Selected Publications

López-Duarte, P.C., J.H. Christy, and R.A. Tankersley. 2011. A behavioral mechanism for dispersal in fiddler crab larvae (genus Uca) varies with adult habitat, not phylogeny.  Limnology and Oceanography (accepted).

Medina, J.M. and R.A. Tankersley. 2010.  Orientation of larval and juvenile horseshoe crabs Limulus polyphemus to visual cues: effects of chemical odors.  Current Zoology 56: 618-633.

Botton, M.L., R.A. Tankersley, R.E. Loveland. 2010. Developmental ecology of the American horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus.  Current Zoology 56: 550-562.

Krimsky L.S., P. M. Gravinese, R.A. Tankersley, C.E. Epifanio. 2009.  Patterns of larval release in the Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 373: 96-101

Ehlinger, G.S. and R.A. Tankersley. 2009. Ecology of horseshoe crabs in microtidal lagoons. In: Tanacredi JT, Botton ML, Smith DR ed., Biology and Conservation of Horseshoe Crabs.  New York: Springer, p 149-162.

López-Duarte, P.C. and R.A. Tankersley. 2009. Developmental shift in the selective tidal-stream transport behavior of larvae of the fiddler crab Uca minax (LeConte) Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 368:169–180.

López-Duarte, P.C. and R.A. Tankersley (2007) Circatidal swimming behaviors of fiddler crab Uca pugilatorlarvae from different tidal regimes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 343: 207-220

López-Duarte, P.C. and R.A. Tankersley (2007) Circatidal swimming behavior of brachyuran crab zoea larvae: implications for ebb-tide transport. Marine Biology 151: 2037-2051

Ehlinger, G.S. and R.A. Tankersley. (2007) Reproductive ecology of the American horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus in the Indian River Lagoon: An overview. Florida Scientist 70:449-463

Tankersley, R.A. and R.B. Forward, Jr (2007) Environmental physiology. pp. 451-483. In: The Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus. V. Kennedy and L.E. Cronin (eds). Maryland Sea Grant, College Park, MD

Ehlinger, G.S. and R.A. Tankersley. 2006. Endogenous rhythms and entrainment cues of larval activity in the horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 337: 205-214.