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Feller, Ilka


Dr. Ilka Feller (…better known as Candy Feller) is an Ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, which conducts research and education on linked ecosystems of the coastal zone around the world. Candy’s research focuses on the consequences of nutrient over-enrichment and the biology of animal-plant interactions in mangrove ecosystems. She has worked in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, Belize, Panama, Brazil, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.  Candy and her collaborators have established a coordinated distributed network of 30 long-term fertilization experiments along latitudinal gradients around the world to investigate the interaction of nutrient over-enrichment and climate change on the structure and function of mangrove ecosystems. She has published more than 100 scientific papers and has been project leader on multidisciplinary research programs focused on understanding the biocomplexity of mangrove ecosystems. She has also taught numerous marine ecology field courses for undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, and resource managers in the Neotropics and has developed a Mangrove Virtual Tour to educate the public on mangrove ecology.

Research Areas

Geographic Focus

Background And Education

Education And Training

International Audience Summary Of Expertise

  • Candy Feller is an ecologist studying how excess nutrients and climate change affect mangroves and other coastal wetlands.

    The health of mangroves has ripple effects into marine food webs that use these mangroves as nurseries or feeding grounds, as well as for people who depend on mangroves for subsistence.

    At the Animal-Plant Interaction Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Candy studies the potential long-term impact of small doses of nitrogen and phosphorus used in commercial fertilizers on mangrove ecosystems.

    Candy first began exploring swamps in her grandmother’s backyard as a child. Today, she has long-term experimental research sites in the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Belize, Panama, Florida and the Gulf of California. Candy earned her Ph.D. in Ecology from Georgetown University.

    Candy was the chair of the Mangrove & Macrobenthos Meeting (MMM4) in St. Augustine, FL. MMM4 is an international conference on mangrove ecosystems convened at 4 to 6 year intervals.

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Research And Grants


Selected Publications