Wes Tunnell, Ph.D.

Department of Life Sciences

Photo of Wes Tunnell
Dr. Wes Tunnell
Professor Emeritus
Email: @tamucc.edu
Website: Harte Research Institute
Ph.D. 1974, Texas A&M University (Biology)
M.S. 1969, Texas A&I University (Biology)
B.S. 1967, Texas A&I University (Biology)


Dr. Wes Tunnell is a broadly trained marine biologist/ecologist with a particular interest in field studies on coral reefs and coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Although his current focus is on biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico, he has studied and published on coral reef ecology, coastal ecology, molluscan distribution and ecology, oil spill impacts, brachiopods, colonial waterbirds, and vertebrate fossils from the seabed. Dr. Tunnell is the Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at TAMUCC, and he is a Fulbright Scholar, Regents Professor, and Professor Emeritus. Dr. Tunnell has published over 120 papers, book chapters, and proceedings, as well as seven books. Five of his books are with Texas A&M University Press, where he is General Editor of two book series for TAMUCC. His TAMU Press books include: Laguna Madre of Texas and Tamaulipas (2002), Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico (2007), Encyclopedia of Texas Seashells (2010), Texas Seashells – A Field Guide (2014), and Pioneering Archaeology of the Texas Coastal Bend – The Pape-Tunnell Collection (2015).

Dr. Tunnell retired from academic affairs in 2013, but he continues to work part-time at HRI, managing a biodiversity grant in the Yucatan from the Harte Charitable Foundation, as well as writing more books.

His research interest areas include:

  • coral reef and coastal ecology
  • molluscan systematics, distribution, and ecology
  • Gulf of Mexico biodiversity
  • oil spill impacts to marine environments