faculty listing

A Photo of  Sarah Hardy

Contact Information

Institute of Marine Science
233 Irving II
P.O. Box 757220
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220
Phone: (907) 474-7616

Sarah Hardy Assistant Professor

Biological Oceanography • Marine Biology • Marine Ecology • Marine Invertebrates


  • Benthic-pelagic coupling
  • Polar marine ecology
  • Reproduction and life-history strategies of marine invertebrates
  • Trophic interactions
  • Lipid and stable isotope analysis
  • Ecology of soft-sediment habitats


  • B.A. 1996 University of California Santa Cruz (Marine Biology)
  • M.S. 1998 San Francisco State University (Marine Biology)
  • Ph.D. 2005 University of Hawaii (Biological Oceanography)

Office Hours

W 1:00 - 2:00; Th 1:00 - 2:00

Research Overview

My research touches on a broad range of topics in benthic ecology. I am particularly interested in coupling between pelagic and benthic processes, including how patterns in surface-ocean primary production impact benthic organisms in/on the underlying sediments that depend on flux of detritus from above. For example, how is the nutritional value of phytodetritus changing in time and space, and what are the consequences for benthic deposit feeders? I am also interested in reproduction and life-history strategies of benthic invertebrates, and particularly how diet affects reproductive success. Other research projects apply molecular tools in studying biodiversity, community structure, and patterns of connectivity among benthic communities.

Current Research Projects

  • Effects of Maternal Diet on Reproduction and Larval Development in the California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) (SARDFA, Rasmuson Fisheries Research Center)
    North Pacific waters are exhibiting shifts in composition of phytoplankton assemblages. Biochemical profiles differ among algal groups, particularly with respect to fatty acid composition, suggesting such shifts may cause changes in nutritional value of algal detritus available to consumers. Some essential fatty acids are important dietary requirements for production of eggs and development of larvae in marine invertebrates. We are investigating effects of differing algal diets on reproductive output and larval development in a commercially-harvested sea cucumbers, including investigation of fatty acids provisioned to eggs prior to spawning, and effects of maternal diet on larval development and survival.
  • Assessing Benthic Meiofaunal Community Structure in the Alaskan Arctic: A High-Throughput DNA Sequencing Approach (North Pacific Research Board)
    We are conducting surveys of abundance and diversity of benthic meiofaunal invertebrates in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas using high-throughput gene sequencing approaches. These surveys will provide essential baseline data for monitoring climate-change effects and impacts of disturbance from mineral resource extraction activities. Sediment communities are ideally suited to tracking long-term change because they tend to dampen short-term seasonal or interannual “noise” in many environmental characteristics (e.g., primary production, hydrographic features). DNA-based approaches allow for rapid assessment of meiofaunal community structure and diversity.
  • US-Canada Transboundary Fish and Lower Trophic Communities (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)
    The overall goal of this project is to survey fish and essential fish habitat in the eastern part of the Beaufort Sea Outer Continental Shelf Planning Area. We are collaborating with scientists from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in data collection and analysis. Goals include documentation of fish and invertebrate abundance, distribution, and habitat. My group is responsible for analysis of sediment infauna, measurements of sediment characteristics and organic matter content, and fatty acid analysis of select taxa for incorporation into food web models.


Albrecht, G.T., A.E. Valentin, K.J. Hundertmark, S.M. Hardy (2014) Panmixia in Alaskan populations of the snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio (Malacostraca, Decapoda) in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Journal of Crustacean Biology 4(1):31-39.

Wedding, L.M., A.M. Friedlander, J.N. Kittinger, L. Watling, S.D. Gaines, M. Bennett, S.M. Hardy, C.R. Smith (2013) From principles to practice: a spatial approach to systematic conservation planning in the deep sea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280: doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.1684.

Hardy, S.M., M. Lindgren, H. Konakanchi, F. Huettmann (2011) Predicting the distribution and ecological niche of unexploited snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) populations in Alaskan waters: A first open-access ensemble model. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51: 608-622.

Carr, C.M., S.M. Hardy, T. Brown, T. MacDonald, P.D.N. Hebert (2011) A tri-oceanic perspective: DNA barcoding reveals geographic structure and cryptic diversity in Canadian polychaetes. PLoS One 6: e22232.

Neal, L., S.M. Hardy, C.R. Smith, A.G. Glover (2011) Polychaete species diversity on the deep Antarctic shelf. Marine Ecology Progress Series 428: 119-134.

Hardy, S.M., C. Carr, M. Hardman, D. Steinke, E. Corstorphine, C. Mah (2011) Biodiversity and phylogeography of Arctic marine fauna: Insights from molecular tools. Marine Biodiversity 41(1): 195-210.

McClain, C., S.M. Hardy (2010) Species ranges, scales of dispersal, and population connectivity in the abyss. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277: 3533-3546.

Bluhm, B., K. Iken, S.M. Hardy, B. Sirenko, B. Holladay (2009) Community structure of epibenthic megafauna in the Chukchi Sea. Aquatic Biology 7: 269-293.

Mincks, S.L., P. Dyal, G.L.J. Paterson, C.R. Smith, A.G. Glover (2009) A new species of Aurospio (Polychaeta, Spionidae) from the Antarctic shelf, with analysis of its ecology, reproductive biology and evolutionary history. Marine Ecology 30: 181-197.

Mincks, S.L., C.R. Smith, R.M. Jeffreys, P.Y.G. Sumida (2008) Trophic structure on the West Antarctic Peninsula shelf: Detritivory and benthic inertia revealed by delta-13C and delta-15N analysis. Deep-Sea Research II 55: 2502-2514.

Smith, C.R., S.L. Mincks, D.J. DeMaster (2008) The FOODBANCS Project: Introduction and sinking fluxes of organic carbon, chlorophyll-a and phytodetritus on the western Antarctic Peninsula shelf. Deep-Sea Research II 55: 2404-2414.

Glover, A.G., C.R. Smith, S.L. Mincks, P.Y.G. Sumida, A. Thurber (2008) Macrofaunal abundance and composition on the West Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf: evidence for a sediment ‘food bank’ and similarities to deep-sea habitats. Deep-Sea Research II 55: 2491-2501.

Mincks, S.L., C.R. Smith (2007) Recruitment patterns in Antarctic shelf sediments: Evidence of decoupling from seasonal phytodetritus pulses. Polar Biology 30: 587-600.

Smith, C.R., S.L. Mincks, D.J. DeMaster (2006) A synthesis of bentho-pelagic coupling on the Antarctic Shelf: Food banks, ecosystem inertia and global climate change. Deep-Sea Research II 53: 875-894.

Mincks, S.L., C.R. Smith, D.J. DeMaster (2005) Persistence of labile organic matter and microbial biomass in Antarctic shelf sediments: Evidence of a sediment “food bank”. Marine Ecology Progress Series 300: 3-19.

Mincks, S.L., S.M. Bollens, L.P. Madin, E.Horgan, M. Butler, P.M. Kremer, J.E. Craddock (2000) Distribution, abundance, and feeding ecology of decapods in the Arabian Sea, with implications for vertical flux. Deep-Sea Research II 47: 1475-1516.

Current Students

Alexis Walker

Alexis Walker – M.S. Marine Biology

Julia Dissen – M.S. Marine Biology

Charlotte Regula-Whitefield – Ph.D. Marine Biology

Leah Sloan – Ph.D. Marine Biology

Former Students

Raphaelle Descoteaux

Raphaelle Descoteaux – M.S. Marine Biology

Greg Albrecht

Greg Albrecht – M.S. Marine Biology