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Lisa Lucas

General Engineer

Contact Info

Short Biography

Lisa uses numerical models and field observations to understand how coupled physical-biological processes influence (1) the food web base (phytoplankton), (2) water quality, (3) inter-habitat connectivity, and (4) the ways in which aquatic ecosystem functions and services may shift in future decades in response to changes in climate, management, or physical configuration. In particular, she studies interactions between environmental parameters and processes such as hydrodynamic transport, light availability, filter feeding by consumers, and bathymetry and their influence on biomass and productivity of phytoplankton.  Her focus tends to be on tidal systems, although some of her work applies to rivers and lakes as well. She thinks of herself as an "Ecohydrodynamicist", but some of her friends like to call her things like "Hydro-phydamicist" (which she doesn't mind). 

  • I love being a member of Jim Cloern's Plankton Dynamics Team. Check out our website at
  • I'm psyched to be part of the USGS CASCaDE Project (Computational Assessments of Scenarios of Change for the Delta Ecosystem). Check us out at
  • I did my graduate work at Stanford University in the Environmental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory with Jeff Koseff and Stephen Monismith  (
  • My undergrad alma mater is University of Notre Dame (the one in South Bend, Indiana)--GO IRISH!

Download CV


Lucas, L.V. and J.K. Thompson. 2012. Changing restoration rules: Exotic bivalves interact with residence time and depth to control phytoplankton productivity. Ecosphere 3(12):117. [Link]

Lucas, L.V. 2010. Implications of estuarine transport for water quality, in: Contemporary Issues in Estuarine Physics, ed. A. Valle-Levinson. Cambridge University Press. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., J.K. Thompson, and L.R. Brown. 2009. Why are diverse relationships observed between phytoplankton biomass and transport time? Limnology and Oceanography 54(1):381-390. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., J.R. Koseff, S.G. Monismith, and J.K. Thompson. 2009. Shallow water processes govern system-wide phytoplankton bloom dynamics: A Modeling Study. Journal of Marine Systems 75:70-86. [Link]

Thompson, J.K., J.R. Koseff, S.G. Monismith, and L. V. Lucas. 2008. Shallow water processes govern system-wide phytoplankton bloom dynamics: A Field Study. Journal of Marine Systems 74:153-166. [Link]

Brown, L.R., J.K. Thompson, K. Higgins, and L.V. Lucas. 2007. Population density, biomass, and age-class structure of an invasive clam Corbicula fluminea in rivers of the lower San Joaquin River watershed, California. Western North American Naturalist 67(4):572-586 [Link]

Lucas, L. V., D. M. Sereno, J. R. Burau, T. S. Schraga, C. B. Lopez, M. T. Stacey, K. V. Parchevsky, V. P. Parchevsky. 2006. Intra-daily variability of water quality in a shallow tidal lagoon: mechanisms and implications. Estuaries and Coasts 29(5): 711-730. [Link]

Lopez, C. B., J. E. Cloern, T. S. Schraga, A. J. Little, L. V. Lucas, J. K. Thompson, and J. R. Burau. 2006. Ecological values of shallow-water habitats: implications for restoration of disturbed ecosystems. Ecosystems 9: 422-440. [Link]

May, C., J. R. Koseff, L. V. Lucas, J. E. Cloern, and D. H. Schoellhamer. 2003. Effects of spatial and temporal variability of turbidity on phytoplankton blooms. Marine Ecology Progress Series 254: 111-128. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., J.E. Cloern, J.K. Thompson, and N. E. Monsen. 2002. Functional variability of habitats in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: restoration implications. Ecological Applications 12(5): 1528-1547. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., T. Schraga, C.B. Lopez, J.R. Burau, and A.D. Jassby. 2002. Pulsey, Patchy Water Quality in the Delta: Implications for Meaningful Monitoring. Newsletter, Interagency Ecological Program for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary 15(3): 21-27. [Link]

Lucas, L.V. and J.E. Cloern. 2002. Effects of tidal shallowing and deepening on phytoplankton production dynamics: a modeling study. Estuaries 25(4A): 497-507. [Link]

Monsen, N. E., J. E. Cloern, L. V. Lucas, and S. G. Monismith. 2002. A comment on the use of flushing time, residence time and age as transport time scales. Limnology and Oceanography 47(5): 1545-1553. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., J.R. Koseff, J.E. Cloern, S.G. Monismith, and J.K. Thompson. 1999. Processes Governing Phytoplankton Blooms in Estuaries. I: The Local Production-Loss Balance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 187: 1-15. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., J.R. Koseff, S.G. Monismith, J.E. Cloern, and J.K. Thompson. 1999. Processes Governing Phytoplankton Blooms in Estuaries. II: The Role of Horizontal Transport. Marine Ecology Progress Series 187: 17-30. [Link]

Lucas, L.V., J.E. Cloern, J.R. Koseff, S.G. Monismith, and J.K. Thompson. 1998. Does the Sverdrup Critical Depth Model Explain Bloom Dynamics in Estuaries? Journal of Marine Research 56: 375-415. [Link]

Lucas, L.V. 1997. A Numerical Investigation of Coupled Hydrodynamics and Phytoplankton Dynamics in Shallow Estuaries. Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University.

Cloern, J.E., C. Grenz, and L.V. Lucas. 1995. An empirical model of the phytoplankton chlorophyll/carbon ratio -- the conversion factor between productivity and growth rate. Limnology and Oceanography 40(7): 1313-1321. [Link]

Vidergar, L.L., J.R. Koseff , and S.G. Monismith. 1993. Numerical models of phytoplankton dynamics for shallow estuaries, in: Hydraulic Engineering '93, ed. H.W. Shen, S.T. Su, and F. Wen. ASCE, 1025-1030.

RECENT PRESENTATIONS ___________________________________________________________________

"What caused the diatom decline in Suisun Bay after 1986?" (Bay-Delta Science Conference, Sacramento 10/29/14) Slides: [Download File]

"Hydrodynamic influences on phytoplankton in the San Francisco Bay-Delta" (Delta Science Program & UC Davis CABA Workshop on "Lower Foodweb Dynamics in California's Bay-Delta Ecosystem", UC Davis 2/18/14) Slides: Video: [Link]

"Residence time is a double-edged sword" (Delta Science Program Workshop on "Delta Outflows and Related Stressors", Sacramento 2/11/14) Slides: Video (see t~3 min): [Link]

"Are Shallower, Slower habitats necessarily GREENER??? How clams upend conceptual models guiding ecosystem management in the Delta" (Briefing for the Delta Independent Science Board, Sacramento 2/14/13) Slides: [Link]

"CASCaDE: Computational Assessments of Scenarios of Change for the Delta Ecosystem" (Co-presented with Noah Knowles, USGS Water Resources Seminar, Menlo Park 2/7/13) Video: [Link]

"The Wiggles Matter: Significance of high-frequency processes to surface water quality" (USGS Western Region Colloquium, Menlo Park 12/3/07) Video: [Link]


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Water Resourcesestuaries
Water Resourcessurface water quality
Ecology and Environmentaquatic ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentestuarine ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentfreshwater ecosystems

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

A Water Census of the United States

Contact Information

Lisa Lucas
Bldg 15, McKelvey Building, 345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3561
650-329-4327 - Fax
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