Thomas Klinger, Ph.D.


Thomas Klinger
BAHS Graduate Program Coordinator; Professor of Biological and Allied Health Sciences

University of South Florida, Biology

Contact Information


Integrative Invertebrate Zoology, Marine Invertebrates, Concepts in Biology 1 Laboratories, Human Sexuality

Research Interests

Areas of Research Specialization: Invertebrate Zoology, Marine Biology, Animal Nutrition, Physiological Ecology, Behavioral Ecology My investigations have explored the functional aspects of invertebrate zoology. Most of these studies have focused upon physiological, behavioral, and ecological aspects of nutrition of echinoderms. Recent studies have emphasized impacts of anthropogenic disturbances, particularly elevated sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, and microplastic pollutants. This work upon novel challenges to sea animals has led to increased involvement in environmental policy and conservation efforts.

Research Group Focus

Many of our studies have focused upon physiological, behavioral, and ecological aspects of nutrition of echinoderms. The herbivorous sea urchins Lytechinus variegatus, Echinometra lucunter, and Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis have been the subject of many of our investigations, but we have also studied the more carnivorous sea urchin, Eucidaris tribuloides, as well as carnivorous and omnivorous starfish and detritivorous sea cucumbers. This research has highlighted many differences between herbivore, carnivore, and detritivore strategies of feeding and digestion.

In future studies we will continue our investigations of invertebrate nutrition and feeding behavior, particularly as this interfaces with physiological and population ecology. We have been integrating our research efforts with agencies involved in echinoderm fisheries. Growth in these fisheries has out-paced our understanding of echinoderms and the communities in which they reside.  Special attention currently is being devoted to the describing the impacts of elevated sea surface temperatures and acidities upon the functional well-being of echinoderms and other marine invertebrates.  We have also begun to investigate the impacts of microplastic particles upon aquatic invertebrate communities.

Representative Publications and Presentations

  • Hartzell, S. M. and T. S. Klinger.  2021.  Using Crayfish Burrows to Illustrate Simple Ecological Field Techniques.  The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 83, 270–273.
  • Collins-Jencarelli, C., L. Green, J. Hranitz, C. Venn, and T. Klinger.  2021. Thermal tolerances of the Caribbean sea urchins Eucidaris tribuloides, Echinometra lividis, and Echinometra lucunter (Echinodermata: Echinoidea): Potential impacts of climate change.  Integrative and Comparative Biology 61, Supplement 1, e155-156.
  • Wadena, L. V., T. S. Klinger, and S. M. Hartzell.  2018.  Autumn diet of Allegheny crayfish (Faxonius [Orconectes] obscurus) in an eastern Pennsylvania stream.  Proceedings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists 20, 97.
  • Hartzell, S.M., C.E. Corbin, J.M. Hranitz, and T.S. Klinger.  2017.  Treasures in the cabinet: A case study in the value of a small institutional natural history collection, and call for collaboration.  Proceedings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists 19, 47-48.
  •  Klinger, T. S., H. Lessios, and A. Calderon. 2017. Thermal tolerances of three species of Echinometra (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) in Panama. Eighth North American Echinoderms Conference, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Andreus, J. M., B. A. Boginsky, K. K. Mercer, J. M. Lawrence, A. L. Lawrence, and T. S. Klinger. 2003. Absorption and storage of nutrients by Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (O. F. Müller) (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) fed artificial feeds. Proceedings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists 5, 28-29.
  • Fountain, M. P., J. M. Hranitz, C. Venn, and T. S. Klinger. 2002. Analysis of VNTR locus variations in two species of gooseneck barnacle (Lepas). Integrative and Comparative Biology 42, 1231.
  • Böttger, S. A., J. B. McClintock, and T. S. Klinger. 2001. Effects of inorganic and organic phosphates on feeding, feeding absorption, nutrient allocation, growth, and righting responses of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. Marine Biology 138, 741-751.
  • Lawrence, J. M. and T. S. Klinger. 2001. Digestion in sea urchins. Pages 103-113 IN: J. M. Lawrence (ed.). Edible Sea Urchins: Biology and Ecology. Elsevier Science, New York.

Representative Theses, Directed Studies, and Departmental Papers

  • Facella. M.  2021.  Microplastics found in digestive systems of macroinverebrates from rivers of different order. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Collins, C. 2020. Thermal tolerances of the Caribbean sea urchins Eucidaris tribuloides, Echinometra lividis, and Echinometra lucunter (Echinodermata: Echinoidea):  Potential impacts of climate change.  Master of Science Thesis.
  • Baker, J. 2016. Ecological Niche Overlap between Three Species of Sea Cucumbers: Sclerodactyla briareus, Thyonella gemmata, and Leptosynapta tenuis. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Climent, J. F. 2004. Effects of Naphthalene on Early Developmental Stages of the Green Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (Echinodermata: Echiniodea). Master of Science Thesis.
  • Purcell, K. 2002. Evaluation of Three Methods for Testing Nitrogen Assimilation in Poriferans. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Bernhardt, P. 2002. A Morphometric Comparison of the Pelagic Barnacle, Lepas anatifera, under Various Environmental Conditions in the Equitorial Pacific Ocean during the 1997-1998 El Nino. Master of Science Thesis.
  • Andreus Sampsell, J. 1999. Gene Flow among Populations of Coral Reef Holothuroids. Master of Science Thesis.