Postdoctoral Research

Dr. Philip Gravinese

Dr. Philip Gravinese

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Philip Gravinese joined the Mote team in February 2017. His research interests focus primarily on determining how environmental stressors, like ocean acidification, elevated seawater temperatures, hypoxia, and red tide will impact the reproductive biology, development, and behavior of commercially important crustaceans (stone crabs, blue crabs, and spiny lobster). During his Master’s research he raised larval stone crabs from hatching in order to perform experiments that were designed to characterize how stone crab larvae control their vertical swimming in response to endogenous and exogenous cues (light, pressure and gravity).

Read about Dr. Gravinese's research in the Spring 2020 edition of Mote Magazine here.

One of the greatest challenges for the management of crustacean fisheries is the inability to adequately correlate the success rate of larvae and juveniles recruiting back to the fishery with fine-scale environmental changes that occur within coastal habitats. The research in Dr. Gravinese’s laboratory begins to address this challenge. His research interests include determining the mechanisms that underlie the recruitment and settlement behavior of larval crabs by assessing the role different environmental and chemical cues play during development, habitat selection, and metamorphosis. His lab is also attempting to characterize how combined stressors like elevated temperature and hypoxia (low oxygen) can impact the tolerance and recovery of marine crustaceans. Recently, Dr. Gravinese has been conducting experiments to determine the stone crab’s tolerance during red tide events that usually occur along Florida’s west coast.

Dr. Gravinese’s research has the potential to identify trends that may modulate successful recruitment in several crustacean fisheries. A more comprehensive understanding of how post-larvae and juveniles respond to combined environmental stressors will provide additional tools for managers to use in their interpretation of crustacean fishery data. The results from this work can be incorporated into predictive models designed to estimate population sizes as natural and anthropogenic disturbances continue to drive environmental changes into the future.

Dr. Gravinese also brings 13+ years of teaching experience to Mote. He spent six years teaching in Florida’s public schools and as an adjunct professor for Eastern Florida State College before returning to pursue his Ph.D. in 2011. During his Ph.D., he participated in an NSF Fellowship that partnered graduate students with educators to integrate parts of his dissertation research into thematic lessons for K-12 students. He still teaches as an adjunct for St. Petersburg College.

Dr. Gravinese’s passion for outreach stems from his extensive teaching background. Throughout his Ph.D. he attempted to bridge the communication gap between the scientific community and the general public by incorporating the underlying concepts of his research into educational lessons. In 2012, he co-founded an international marine-science film-making competition for K–12 students called Youth Making Ripples. The Youth Making Ripples program challenges the next generation of ocean enthusiasts to promote marine conservation messages using film and 21st century technology. Since its inception, the Youth Making Ripples Film Festival has received 600 submissions from over 2000 elementary, middle, and high school students from around the world.

We are grateful for the funding that supports this work, specifically The Steinwachs Foundation, Mote Protect Our Reef License Plate Grant Program and The Mote Scientific Foundation.


Ph.D. Biology, Florida Institute of Technology 2016

M.S. Marine Biology, Florida Institute of Technology 2007 

B.S., Marine Biology Florida Institute of Technology 2003 



Gravinese, P.M. (2020). The tolerance of juvenile stone crabs to hypoxia: Size matters. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 523: 151269.

Gravinese, P.M., Enochs, I.C., Manzello, D.P., van Woesik, R. (2019). Ocean acidification changes the vertical movement of stone crab larvae. Biology Letters. 15: 20190414.

Frehm, V., Gravinese, P.M., Toth, L. (2019). Cultivating future environmental stewards: a case study at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Florida Scientist. 82(4):112-121.

Gravinese, P.M., Saso, E., Lovko, V.J., Blum, P., Cole, C., Pierce, R.H. (2019). Karenia brevis causes high mortality and impaired swimming behavior of Florida stone crab larvae. Harmful Algae. 84:188-194. 

Gravinese, P. M. (2018). Vertical swimming behavior in larvae of the Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria. Journal of Plankton Research, 40(6), 643-654.

Gravinese, P.M., Toth, L. T., Randall, C. J., Aronson, R. B. (2018). How Do Upwelling and El Niño Impact Coral Reef Growth? A Guided, Inquiry-based Lesson. Oceanography, 31(4), 184-188.

Gravinese, P.M., Kronstadt, S.M., Clemente, T., Cole, C., Blum, P., Henry, M.S., Pierce, R.H., and Lovko, V.J. 2018. The effects of red tide (Karenia brevis) on reflex impairment and mortality of sublegal Florida stone crabs, Menippe mercenaria. Marine Environmental Research. 137:145–148. doi: 

Gravinese, P.M., Enochs, I., Manzello, D., van Woesik, R. 2018. Warming and pCO2 effects on Florida stone crab larvae. Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science. 204:193–201. doi: 

Gravinese, P.M. 2018. Ocean acidification impacts the embryonic development and hatching success of the Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria. Journal Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 500: 140–146. doi: 

Staaterman E.R., Bhandiwad, A.A., Gravinese, P.M., Moeller, P.M., Reichenbach, Z.C., Shantz, A.A., Shiffman, D.S., Toth, L.T., Warneke, A.M., Gallagher, A.J. 2014. Lights, camera, science: The utility and growing popularity of film festivals at scientific meetings. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution: 7:11–16. Manuscript link:

C.L. Boleman, Gravinese, P.M., Muse, E., Marston, A., and Windsor, J.W. 2013. Corals on Acid: Inquiry-based activity bringing students to a better understanding in ocean acidification impacts. Oceanography. 26(4): 164–169. doi:

Krimsky, L., Gravinese, P.M., Epifanio, C., and Tankersley, R.A.. 2009. The timing of larval release from different tidal regimes in the Florida Stone crab, Menippe mercenaria. Journal Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 373(2). 96–101. doi:

Published Technical Reports

Gravinese, P.M., Flannery, J.A., and Toth, L.T. 2016. A methodology for quantifying trace elements in the exoskeletons of Florida stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) larvae using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP–OES). U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1148, 12p. doi: