When does hypoxia affect management performance of fisheries? A MSE of Dungeness crab fisheries in Hood Canal, WA

Hypoxia [dissolved oxygen (DO) < 2 mg/L] is one of the key threats to some of the most productive regions of the marine environment (e.g., estuaries). Although mortality can occur, mobile organisms have the potential to avoid the most severe low oxygen conditions, but suffer ecologically significant indirect and sublethal impacts as a result. In Washington State, USA, a fjord estuary of the Puget Sound marine ecosystem, known as Hood Canal (110 km), regularly experiences seasonal hypoxia. My dissertation addresses several important gaps in the current knowledge pertaining to the non-lethal biological effects of hypoxia on the mobile benthic and pelagic species of Hood Canal – for the sake of time and your sanity, I’ll be focusing on the benthos. Using acoustic telemetry, I quantified movement patterns and distributional shifts of Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister), an abundant and widely distributed species. Although highly mobile, Dungeness crab displayed more localized, rather than large-scale, directional movement relative to hypoxia. More specifically, the tagged crabs showed significant distributional shifts towards shallower waters. As one of the most important fisheries in Puget Sound, I wanted to then investigate the generalized relationship between hypoxia and the Dungeness crab harvest (3-S) management strategy. Inferred by the shoaling behavior from the field, an age-structured population model was constructed to test several hypoxia-scenarios with other stressors, including harvest, illegal crab fishing, and incidental capture mortality. It was found that the 3-S management strategy is most sensitive to the influence of hypoxia when other sources of demographic restrictions are considered, underscoring the uncertainty associated with a data-poor species under multiple anthropogenic and environmental stressors.

FieldWork_2010_HoodCanal Tagged_Crab


Halley E. Froehlich, Ph.D. (Halley is the untagged one on the left)

Postdoctoral Researcher

National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis
University of California, Santa Barbara



Introduction to Spatial Analysis in R

Jamie Afflerback (NCEAS Assistant Specialist)
Wed Sept 23
Note location change to Main Conference Room
Ever wonder how to work with your spatial data in R? Now’s the time to learn! I will lead an informal, participatory workshop on how to do some spatial analysis in R. This session will use RStudio to introduce some of the most commonly used spatial packages/libraries to work with both raster and vector data types.

– Your own personal laptop
– Familiarity with R and RStudio. This is not an introduction to R so participants should already be using R.
– The most up to date versions of R and RStudio

The workshop is set up to walk through a script I prepared, line by line. Participants can choose to code as we go along, or just step through the coded script. If you’d like to participate please send an email to afflerbach@nceas.ucsb.edu by Monday September 21. More details will be sent out next Tuesday.

For a preview, you can find all code and data held in this GitHub repository. Please note that being familiar with GitHub is not a requirement to participate.

Environmental and Social Sustainability: How High A Priority for Environmental Organizations? (Sept 16)

This will be an informal discussion related to sustainability issues for organizations such as our own. Please come prepared to share your experiences, opinions and ideas! I hope that through this discussion we might come up with some concrete ideas about what we, as individuals, can do to help to promote sustainability within our current and future organizations.

Some questions we might use to guide the discussion include:

– Do organizations that focus on environmental issues have a responsibility to be environmentally (and socially) sustainable? Do they have special responsibilities in these areas because of the environmental focus of their work?
– What is meant by ‘sustainability’? What does environmental and social sustainability for an organization like NCEAS look like?
– How do environmental organizations know if they have achieved sustainability, or are making progress toward a goal? What responsibilities do they have (if any) to monitor sustainability performance?
– Do individuals who work for environmental organizations have a responsibility to invest effort in contributing to the sustainability of those organizations? If so, what kinds of actions can they take?

If you have ideas for additional questions we might discuss, please send them to me and I’ll add them to the list.

Dr. Stacy Rebich Hespanha
NCEAS Research Associate

Bundling multiple ecosystem services in agroecosystems: Insights from a historical perspective (Sept 9)

The need to reconcile food production, multiple ecosystem services (ES) and biodiversity conservation has spurred the search for more sustainable ways of farming. In this context, my approach consists in getting insights from the past to support the management of present and future agroecosystems.

First, I investigated how past agricultural practices can affect current ecosystem functioning. A better understanding of such legacy is of key importance for predicting human environmental impacts. In some South American wetlands, I found that humans have created favorable habitat for crops, but also for a high diversity of organisms that today maintain the vestiges of fields against erosion since they were abandoned hundred years ago. Based on these results, I came to understand how to exploit synergies between human actions and those of natural soil organisms (such as social insects, earthworms and plants) to design agroecosystems that support food production, biodiversity and soil fertility.

Second, I tested how a historical perspective on ES can help meet the challenge of managing multiple ES simultaneously. To do this, I reconstructed the provision of nine ES (including food production, carbon storage, flood regulation, recreational activities) over the past 35 years in an agroforested landscape in Quebec, Canada. My results demonstrated that individual ES, ES assemblages, and interactions among ES changed across both time and space, driven by combination of policy changes, biophysical and socio-economic characteristics of the study region. My approach led to a better understanding of how multiple ES interact, how trade-offs and synergies emerge, and how interactions may shift through time as social-ecological conditions change.

Dr. Delphine Renard
McGill University & Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science