Matthew T. Costa

"I study the natural history, biogeochemistry, and microbial ecology of organic sediments in Baja California Sur’s mangrove forests. "

Matthew Costa studies mangrove forest ecosystems as a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), at the University of California, San Diego. His research with the GCMP focuses on the mangrove forests of Baja California Sur. Despite the physiological challenges faced by the mangrove trees in this arid environment at the northern limit of their range, these forests store large amounts of carbon in organic-rich sediments. Matthew leads the GCMP’s efforts to quantify these carbon stores and to understand the processes limiting their decomposition. Matthew and colleagues survey these forests by collecting sediment cores in the forests of the region and sampling them for chemical and metagenomic analysis. By measuring concentrations and isotopic ratios of carbon and key nutrients, microbial diversity and activity, and trace element records in these cores, they aim not only to map out the carbon stores of these forests, but to elucidate the processes that keep carbon locked away as organic matter in these sediments, rather than returning to the atmosphere as CO2. Matthew aims to use this information to motivate strong protection of these forests based on the valuation of this ecosystem service, and to guide management with a scientific understanding of their carbon storage capacity.

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In 2011, he received his B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, where he completed his thesis on mangrove species zonation in Bermuda in collaboration with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Matthew matriculated at U.C. San Diego in 2013 as a U.C. Regents Fellow in 2013 and in 2014 was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in biological oceanography at SIO, the home of the Gulf of California Marine Program (GCMP).


  • Mangrove Carbon Sequestration in the Gulf of California (G.C.M.P)
  • Mangrove Ecosystem Services of Mangroves of the Galapagos: Fisheries and Carbon Storage (Charles Darwin Foundation and the GCMP)
  • Soil Nutrient Dynamics (Smithsonian Tropical Research In Panama)
  • Awards

  • Regents Fellowship (University of California, San Diego) (2013 – 2014)
  • Mia Tegner Memorial Fellowship (UC San Diego) (2014)
  • SIO Department Graduate Student Excellence Travel/Research Award (2014, 2015, 2016)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2014 – 2019)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Internship (2015)
  • UC-MEXUS Dissertation Research Grant (2016)