Marta Ribes earned her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Barcelona in 1998. Her thesis focused on benthic feeders’ metabolism, utilizing in situ incubation chambers for gorgonian species, sponges, and ascidians. After her Ph.D., she conducted postdoctoral research at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, uncovering the significance of picoplankton in coral reefs and the role of hydrodynamics in nutrient acquisition. Awarded the prestigious “Ramon y Cajal” contract in 2001, she secured a tenure-track position at the Institute of Marine Science in Barcelona, becoming a permanent staff member in 2007.
Researching coastal marine benthos on rocky substrates dominated by filter feeders, she focuses on the energetic dynamics sustaining the metabolism of the dominant taxa. Her work explores strategies for resource acquisition, such as symbiosis and structural investment, and investigates ecosystem-level energy dependence through hydrodynamics. Her research lines include assessing energy inputs and nutrient acquisition through comprehensive diet studies and quantifying oxygen consumption. This energetic approach has pioneered the understanding of large-scale benthic organism mortality related to climate change. Simultaneously, she has contributed to research on energy investment in secondary production in benthic invertebrates and collaborated on understanding the geographical expansion of invasive species, such as the coral Oculina patagonica, emphasizing the significance of organism interactions in spatial occupation.
Her research primarily involves in situ studies under actual environmental conditions, emphasizing seasonal analyses across changing environmental factors. This is particularly relevant in temperate seas like the Mediterranean and crucial within the context of climate change. Her work has resulted in 66 scientific papers cited over 4,300 times, several book chapters, and outreach papers. Continuously funded as PI for 10 competitive projects and involved in over 20 projects as a research team member, she has also supervised several PhD and MSc theses.