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Richard Aronson, Ph.D. - Florida Tech. Melbourne, FL, US

Richard Aronson, Ph.D.

Department Head | Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences | Florida Tech


Dr. Aronson's research combines paleontology and ecology to reconstruct the response of marine communities to environmental changes.


Areas of Expertise (5)

Marine Biology

Coral-Reef Ecology





Rich Aronson grew up in Queens, New York, and became interested in marine biology at an early age, collecting shells on Jones Beach, Long Island. He received his A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1979 and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1985.

Dr. Aronson's research program combines paleontology and ecology to reconstruct the response of marine communities to environmental changes in deep time. He brings this information to bear in predicting the impacts of climate change on modern biotas and the communities they comprise.

Dr. Aronson's primary focus is on coral reefs and subtidal communities in Antarctica. The plants and animals living at the latitudinal extremes of the tropics and the poles are quite different, of course, but they share a key characteristic: very narrow ranges of environmental tolerance. Because tropical and polar seas have very little in the way of seasonal temperature variation, most marine species in both zones are adapted to those narrow ranges, making them highly vulnerable to climatic warming. Indeed, the ecological impacts of climate change are being seen earliest and most clearly in the tropics and at the poles.

In addition to research and teaching, Dr. Aronson is active in outreach. He visits K-12 classes regularly and works with journalists on stories about our changing planet. Dr. Aronson's lab is active in producing short videos on climate change and other environmental issues created by undergraduate and graduate students at Florida Tech.

Media Assets




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Peguins, Polar Bears and People. Climate Change and the Future of Marine Life 5 Reasons to Study Marine Conservation at Florida Tech Animal? Mineral? Vegetable? I'm all Three! (What is, and is not, a coral.)


Media Appearances (5)

No northern escape route for Florida's coral reefs



Co-author Richard Aronson, a marine scientist at Florida Tech and Toth's doctoral advisor, said, "All of us on the Eastern Seaboard know the jet stream is wobbling more and dipping southward more frequently, bringing us bad winter storms and bitterly cold weather. The corals along Florida's east coast will be hammered from the north by freezes on the anvil of rising temperatures in the south. They won't be able to shift locations from the Florida Keys to the east coast."

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Florida Tech Faculty Among Top 2 Percent of Scientists Worldwide

Florida Tech News  


Ten faculty members currently or previously associated with Florida Tech have been named to a new list from Stanford University that compiles the top 2 percent of scientists worldwide. Inclusion on the list is based on standardized academic citations, co-authorships and related composite metrics that gauge career-long impact.

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Storm-Surfing Parasites Spread Widely

Scientific American  


“The kicker here for me is climate change,” says Richard Aronson, a marine biologist at the Florida Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study. If hurricanes increase in intensity as predicted, Aronson says, the study suggests there may be more genetic homogenization among some marine animals that would otherwise remain in isolated populations. This would make peripheral populations less likely to cleave off and create new species, he adds.

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Oceanic warming threatens polar wildlife with extinction



Richard Aronson, a co-author of the study and head of the department of ocean engineering and marine sciences at Florida Tech, said wildlife in the Arctic and Antarctic is particularly at risk.

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Florida Tech study: King crabs threaten ecosystem due to warming ocean

Orlando Sentinel  


Warming temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula could make it possible for king crabs to migrate from their current deep-sea home to the shallow continental shelf, said Richard Aronson lead author of the study and head of Florida Tech's Department of Biological Sciences. Their move would have a huge impact on the ecosystem of these shallower waters, possibly making the crustaceans high-level predators where they haven't been for millions of years, according to the study.

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Education (3)

Harvard University: Ph.D., Biology 1985

Dartmouth College: A.B., Biological Sciences 1979

Harvard University: A.M. 1980


Selected Articles (5)

Twenty years of change in benthic communities across the Belizean Barrier Reef

PloS one


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Upwelling and the persistence of coral-reef frameworks in the eastern tropical Pacific

Ecological Monographs


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Climate and the latitudinal limits of subtropical reef development

Scientific Reports


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Ocean acidification alters properties of the exoskeleton in adult Tanner crabs, Chionoecetes bairdi

Journal of Experimental Biology


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Antarctic ecosystem responses following ice-shelf collapse and iceberg calving: Science review and future research

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change


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Languages (1)

  • French