Watershed ecology is all about connections, and one of the most important ways we measure track connections is through the food web. At KBNERR’s watershed research, we explore how landscapes processes support juvenile salmon in many different parts of the watershed, from headwater streams to estuaries. Those studies often involve learning what the salmon are eating, and this presentation will showcase several examples of what we’ve learned. For this talk, we’re going to take a look at juvenile salmon diets from several different locales. We’ll begin in the ‘headwater stream district’ – the uppermost branches of the watershed. These are very small streams that are very tightly connected to the surrounding landscape. Downstream areas receive flow from upstream sources, but headwaters are the beginning so all of the food in headwaters must be generated from nearby sources. Next we’ll travel all the way down to the other end of the watershed, where the rivers meet the sea-the estuaries. Here we have the influence of the ocean tides and the freshwater watershed- we’ll call this ‘fusion cuisine’. We’ll also take a look at imported foods and junk food in in juvenile salmon diets in our area.
Speaker: Coowe Walker
Coowe is the Program Watershed Ecologist and acting Research Coordinator for the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (KBNERR), located in Homer, Alaska. She works collaboratively with colleagues from universities across the US to conduct research that improves understanding of how landscapes are connected with aquatic systems, and how human activities affect those systems. She has been with KBNERR for 18 years, and enjoys celebrating grant successes with single malt scotch. She lives with her husband, son, daughter, two dogs, eight chickens, cat and two guinea pigs at the head of Kachemak Bay.
The North Atlantic right whale, an endangered species with roughly 500 individuals remaining, is currently the focus of conservation efforts aimed at reducing mortality rates associated with ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Consistent monitoring of the population since 1980 has revealed evidence that climate-associated changes in prey availability have played an important role in the population’s recovery. The considerable inter-decadal differences observed in population growth coincide with remote Arctic and North Atlantic oceanographic processes that link to the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Using capture-recapture models, I will quantify the role of prey availability on right whale demographic transitional probabilities and use a corresponding demographic model to forecast population growth rates into the next century. Contrary to previous predictions, the right whale population is projected to recover in the future as long as prey availability and mortality rates remain within the ranges observed during 1980-2012. However, recent events indicate a northward range shift in right whale prey, potentially resulting in decreased prey availability and/or an expansion of right whale habitat into unprotected waters. An annual increase in the number of whale deaths comparable to that observed during the summer 2017 mass mortality event will cause a decline to extinction, even under conditions of normal prey availability. This study highlights the importance of understanding the oceanographic context for observed population changes when evaluating the efficacy of conservation management plans for endangered marine species.
Speaker: Erin Meyer-Gutbrod
Erin is a postdoctoral scholar with the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is broadly interested in assessing ecosystem response to anthropogenic impacts, with a focus on commercially valuable and at-risk species. She is currently conducting a net environmental benefit analysis of oil and gas platform decommissioning scenarios in the Southern California Bight.
Erin’s Website: https://meyer–gutbrod.weebly.com/
We carry in our pockets powerful computers and sensors everywhere we go, even when we go to sea. How can we use the special capabilities of mobile devices to help manage fisheries – or even to aid enforcement of fisheries regulations? After surveying the current state of mobile hardware and software, we’ll look at two concrete examples: eCatch, a commercial fishing logbook app in use by The Nature Conservancy; and eFins, a regulation enforcement aid designed for the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. We’ll step through the lessons learned from both apps. Finally, we’ll discuss the emerging capabilities of mobile devices and ways to utilize those new capabilities for fisheries goals.
Speaker: Todd Bryan
Todd works on the design and implementation of SeaSketch. He has extensive experience in commercial software development, having served as tech lead for GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar at Citrix Online. He was also one of the initial employees at the cloud computing firm RightScale
Large-scale changes in marine ecosystems with significant both environmental and economic consequences are observed in increasing numbers worldwide. Alterations in structure and functioning of marine ecosystems have been increasingly reported through the world in relation to overfishing, climate change and for example eutrophication. These pronounced and abrupt multi-trophic level reorganizations of large-scale ecosystems are usually termed ecosystem regime shifts. In my talk, I will provide an overview of some main reported regime shifts in marine ecosystems in relation to potential underlying mechanisms. To exemplify the existence of several potential ecosystem states, I will present the Baltic Sea as a case study, as it offers long-term monitoring data. My presentation will include results from state-of-the-art statistical analysis allowing the detection of non-linearity and thresholds in food-web interactions and their potential to recover. The results suggest that shifts in ecological and economic baselines can lead to higher economic uncertainty and costs for exploited ecosystems, in particular under climate change. Several research needs in the field of regime shifts, recovery and baselines will be discussed.
Speaker: Thorsten Blenckner
Thorsten is currently an Associate Professor and leader of the Marine Theme, at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden. He has a background in aquatic ecology, climate change and ecosystem processes and function.
Marine spatial planning requires effective stakeholder engagement. For the last 12 years, my lab has been developing and implementing geospatial technologies to increase transparency and stakeholder involvement in marine spatial planning around the world. GeoDesign is a simple approach to designing data-driven spatial plans that seems particularly effective at engaging non-technical stakeholders. I will discuss how we have implemented GeoDesign methods in MarineMap and SeaSketch, two web-based applications used for marine planning. I will also discuss how we are tracking how users are using these tools and introduce the idea of using tradeoff models (and other optimization tools) to investigate the degree to which user-generated plans may be improved to meet science-based goals and objectives.
Speaker: Will McClintock
Will is originally from East Lansing, Michigan, and has studied Biology (B.S., Earlham College), Behavioral Ecology (M.S., University of Cincinnati), Psychology (M.A., Pacifica Graduate Institute) and Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology (Ph.D., University of California Santa Barbara). He has worked in over a dozen countries to support marine spatial planning in the form of stakeholder-friendly decision support tools.
My talk is focused on responses of arid to sub-humid ecosystems to climate change. The main objective of my research is to study how interannual variability of precipitation affects patterns of primary production and to determine which mechanisms govern such responses. In order to investigate cause-effect relationships between precipitation variability and ecosystem response, I carry out a large-scale manipulative experiment, participate in modeling projects, and analyze worldwide long-term data set. Results from these efforts show that interannual precipitation variability itself has a strong effect on primary productivity and that this relationship is independent from the effects of precipitation amount. At the local scale, precipitation variability effects vary among plant-functional types; and, at the global scale, dry sites respond positively and mesic sites respond negatively to increases in interannual precipitation coefficient of variation.
Speaker: Laureano Gherardi
Laureno is an ecosystem ecologist interested in mechanisms governing ecosystem responses to climate change at multiple temporal and spatial scales. In order to pursue this research he combines different complementary approaches ranging from field manipulative experiments to modeling efforts to synthesis of long-term archived data.
Speaker: Jenny Seifert
NCEAS is in a unique position to clarify its identity and voice, a crucial priority for enhancing the center’s reach and influence, especially as it settles into the (arguable) 2.0 version of itself. New-ish communications officer Jenny Seifert will present on how NCEAS communications are evolving. Come prepared to participate in a discussion! Jenny doesn’t want to do all the talking.
Small homework assignment: Is there a website you think is really slick and has some relevance to NCEAS? There will be an opportunity during the Roundtable to share a website you really like that has elements NCEAS could emulate in its forthcoming website remodel.
Speaker: Kristen Hazard
Kristen Hazard, Wildnote’s founder and chief programmer will share the Wildnote story and give an app overview, while Renee Punzi and Nancy Douglas will talk about Wildnote’s current citizen sciene efforts on the Central Coast.
In 2011, Kristen Hazard, a principal at Terra Verde Environmental Consulting, built an environmental compliance reporting app for the powerhouse utility PG&E. The utility needed to comply with environmental regulations while building the infrastructure to accept power from the two huge solar projects in the Carrizo Plains. The app was so valuable to PG&E it started using it on all large construction projects. Over the last five years, PG&E has utilized the app to submit over 50,000 reports and upload over 300,000 photos from more than 600 users from 30 companies. PG&E continues to use the application to meet its compliance reporting needs.
With this background, Kristen’s company, Suntoucher Software, recently created and launched a new app called Wildnote directed to the broader environmental community. Wildnote creates efficiencies in the process of collecting, managing, and reporting environmental data. This is a powerful tool that supports those who are directly involved in the hard work of collecting and analyzing environmental data. The better data we have, the better decisions we can make.
For the past four years, we have dramatically improved how we work with the Ocean Health Index by embracing open data science practices and tools. We now work in a way that is more reproducible, transparent, collaborative, and open, with more emphasis on communication. Our work is more reproducible and streamlined, and more than 20 countries around the world are building off our science and our code to assess ocean health in their own jurisdictions.
We’re sharing our story because at the time we thought this transformation was intimidating, but we are living proof that it’s possible. By describing specific tools and how we incrementally began using them for the Ocean Health Index project, we hope to encourage others in the scientific community to do the same — so we can all produce better science in less time.
Speaker: Julie Stewart Lowndes
Julie is a marine biologist working to bridge science and resource management. In her role as project scientist for the Ocean Health Index, Julie facilitates the adaptation of the OHI+ assessment framework to smaller spatial scales relevant to marine policy. She leads trainings internationally and provides conceptual and technical support for independent OHI assessments.
Prior to joining the Index team, Julie completed her Ph.D dissertation at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, researching potential effects of the Humboldt squid in the California Current System on coastal fisheries in a changing climate.
Species distribution data provide the foundation for a wide range of ecological research studies and conservation management decisions. Two major efforts to provide marine species distributions at a global scale are the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which provides expert-generated range maps that outline the complete extent of a species’ distribution; and AquaMaps, which provides model-generated species distribution maps that predict areas occupied by the species. Together these databases represent 24,586 species (93.1% within AquaMaps, 16.4% within IUCN), with only 2,330 shared species. Differences in intent and methodology can result in very different predictions of species distributions, which bear important implications for scientists and decision makers who rely upon these datasets when conducting research or informing conservation policy and management actions. We illustrate the scientific and management implications of these tradeoffs by repeating a global analysis of gaps in coverage of marine protected areas, and find significantly different results depending on how the two datasets are used. By highlighting tradeoffs between the two datasets, we hope to encourage increased collaboration between taxa experts and large scale species distribution modeling efforts to further improve these foundational datasets, helping to better inform science and policy recommendations around understanding, managing, and protecting marine biodiversity.
You can explore an interactive web app of our results here: http://ohi-science.nceas.ucsb.edu/plos_marine_rangemaps/
Speaker: Casey O’Hara
Casey is a Researcher at NCEAS with the Ocean Health Index project as well as an educator, environmentalist, engineer, and musician. He studied climate change adaptation and mitigation, coastal marine resources, and environmental communication at UCSB’s Bren School and received his Master’s degree in 2014. Long prior to Bren, he earned a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 1994.