Tessa Francis, Ph.D.
Lead Ecosystem Ecologist
B.A., Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
B.S., Wildlife Science, University of Washington
PhD, Zoology and Urban Ecology, University of Washington
Tessa joined the PSI in 2012. She is an aquatic ecologist, and her research is related to aquatic food webs, and the impacts of climate and other environmental variables on food-web dynamics. She is interested in the important associations between terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and how watershed and shoreline dynamics impact aquatic food webs and populations. At PSI, Tessa is engaged in projects related to ecosystem-based management of forage fish in Puget Sound, including Pacific herring; and food-web dynamics, including trade-offs among trophically-linked targets for recovery (salmon and herring). In July of 2014, Tessa also became the Managing Director of the Ocean Modeling Forum, a joint project between UW, NOAA and the Packard Foundation.
As a postdoctoral researcher at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Tessa conducted food-web analyses of the Northern California Current ecosystem. This included describing the effects of large-scale climate indices and local environmental conditions on zooplankton community interaction networks. Tessa, with colleagues at NOAA and NCEAS/UC Santa Barbara, developed a moving-window autoregressive model to describe changes in zooplankton community stability through time, and to identify correlations between stability and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). She also used a qualitative food-web model to identify the key prey and predators of groundfish species of importance in the Northern California Current. Tessa also reviewed the use of futures analyses in the Puget Sound region, and this work contributed to the Puget Sound Science Update (http://pugetsoundscience.org/).
Tessa’s PhD dissertation focused on the consequences of lakeshore urbanization in the Pacific Northwest on lake food webs, shallow-water habitats, macroinvertebrate communities and ecosystem processes including land-water interactions. She conducted research related to the importance of marine-derived nutrients delivered by sockeye salmon to streams in southwestern Alaska. She also reviewed the use of Best Available Science in updates of Washington State's Critical Areas Act by local jurisdictions.
Tessa also holds a B.A. in Political Science, and has worked in theater, film and television.