May 10: The geography of spatial synchrony

Spatial synchrony, defined as correlated temporal fluctuations among populations, is a fundamental feature of population dynamics, but many aspects of synchrony remain poorly understood. Few studies have examined detailed geographical patterns of synchrony; instead most focus on how synchrony declines with increasing linear distance between locations, making the simplifying assumption that distance-decay is isotropic. By synthesizing and extending prior work, we show how geography of synchrony, a term which we use to refer to detailed spatial variation in patterns of synchrony, can be leveraged to understand ecological processes including identification of drivers of synchrony, a longstanding challenge. We focus on three main objectives: 1) showing conceptually and theoretically four mechanisms that can generate geographies of synchrony; 2) documenting complex and pronounced geographies of synchrony in two important study systems; and 3) demonstrating a variety of methods capable of revealing the geography of synchrony and, through it, underlying ecology. By documenting the importance of geographies of synchrony, advancing conceptual frameworks, and demonstrating powerful methods, we aim to help elevate the geography of synchrony into a mainstream area of study and application.

Speaker: Jon Walter

Jon Walter is an ecologist who uses long-term observations, theoretical and data-driven models, and experiments to examine spatiotemporal dynamics of populations and communities. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Kansas, where he is working on projects related to spatial synchrony and insect outbreaks. He obtained his PhD from the University of Virginia in 2014, where his dissertation research focused on spatiotemporal patterns in the gypsy moth invasion.

April 19: (Non)parallel evolution in salmon

Among recent studies of parallel and convergent evolution, appreciation is growing for the ubiquity and importance of non-parallelism, or variation in the extent of parallelism due to differences in the direction or magnitude of divergence among ecotype pairs. In this talk, I’ll first discuss a recent review of studies of parallel evolution in fishes with the goal of determining just how parallel is parallel evolution? Next, I’ll explore two potential drivers of non-parallelism, sexual selection and evolutionary history, in two salmon species. Finally, I’ll briefly outline our NCEAS SASAP working group project on declines in salmon size and age in Alaska. Overall, I hope to highlight the variable extent of parallelism in studies of ostensibly parallel evolution and the value of investigating sources of variation among evolutionary replicates.

Speaker: Krista Oke

Krista is a graduating PhD student from Andrew Hendry’s lab at McGill University, Montreal, where she studied (non)parallel evolution in fishes. Previously, she completed her honours research on hybrids between brown trout and genetically modified Atlantic salmon at Memorial University of Newfoundland, under the supervisor of Ian Fleming. Next month, she will begin a postdoc with Eric Palkovacs at UCSC, as part of an NCEAS SASAP working group project focused on declining salmon size and age in Alaska.

April 5: Inferring species presence using environmental DNA

One of the great challenges with aquatic conservation is knowing what species are present below the water’s surface.  This is particularly true for rare species such as newly arrived non-indigenous species and threatened and endangered species. A new approach to species detection, coined environmental DNA (eDNA), uses the telltale genetic signature of aquatic species in the form of tissue, cells, organelles, and DNA fragments in the water that are captured and extracted to infer presence.  First generation applications of the eDNA methodology were applied to early detection of invasive species, but now the approach is being used to identify entire communities. In this discussion, we will explore the evolution of inferring species presence using environmental DNA, from the original detections of Bighead and Silver Carp in the Great Lakes to the attempts at estimating species richness. Throughout the development of eDNA approaches, mathematical and statistical models have motivated the sampling design and quantification of errors, and these models have ultimately driven inferences of species presence. The resulting growth in eDNA applications is leading to a new era in globally mapping the distribution and identity of species for improved aquatic conservation and management.

Speaker
Christopher Jerde
Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara

Christopher Jerde grew up fishing and camping among the prairie pothole lakes of northeastern South Dakota. He completed his B.Sc. (2008) and M.Sc. (2002) at Montana State University surrounded by open spaces and trout. While Montana cultivated a keen interest in ecology, his experiences studying bison population dynamics motivated him to build a broader quantitative background, and he migrated north to the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Alberta where he completed his Ph.D. (2008).  As a postdoctoral fellow and a research assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame, Chris led the development of an environmental DNA surveillance program for invasive species, most notably searching for Bighead and Silver Carp. Now at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute, Chris’s research program emphasizes the application of novel quantitative, field, and laboratory approaches coupled with emerging technology to address pressing environmental problems.

March 15 – Non-climate processes and ‘species on the move’

Evidence from the past several decades shows that species distributions are shifting in response to climate change. However, even the most robust studies attribute less than half of observed changes in species distributions to local climate factors. Foundational ecology considers climate as just one of many drivers that determine species distributions. I will review five prevalent mechanisms that may explain some of the high variance around the relationship between species range shifts and climate velocity, and describe how they might affect a species’ climate tracking: (1) biogeographic boundaries, (2) habitat gaps and fragmentation, (3) biotic interactions such as competition, predation, and mutualism, (4) other abiotic constraints including light and trace elements, and (5) life history traits that determine dispersal capacity. This work supports conservation initiatives for threatened species by highlighting several processes that may limit their potential redistribution, and can inform analyses of observational data and species distribution models that seek to incorporate multiple processes rather than climate alone.

 

Alexa Fredston-Hermann
fredstonhermann@ucsb.edu

Alexa is a third-year PhD student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB. Her research focuses on biogeographic processes that may prevent species from tracking climate change, particularly in the oceans. She has also studied human impacts to coastal marine ecosystems, and participated in the Ridges to Reef Fisheries SNAPP Working Group. Before entering graduate school, she worked for the Environmental Defense Fund on management of the West Coast groundfish fishery, and graduated from Princeton University in 2012 with a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

March 1: Observing carbon cycle climate feedbacks from space


Carbon cycle climate feedbacks remain one of the most uncertain and complex aspects of the Earth System. Considerable theory exists, but in situ observations are sparse and using them to test alternative hypotheses and to quantify the strength of feedbacks has proved challenging. Satellite observations of XCO2 provide greater coverage spatially, particularly in some crucial but undersampled regions and have the potential to complement more accurate in situ CO2 and more process-relevant local flux observations. We report early analyses of OCO-2 and GOSAT data showing evidence for satellite constraints on both positive and negative feedback mechanisms in the carbon-climate system. Satellite CO2, by providing greater resolution on land in over the oceans, in the tropics, allows linking both growth, and drought-related emissions from ecosystems to be better quantified, allows better linkage of fluxes to mechanisms of disturbance and CO2 fertilization, and provides a new and complementary constraint to others currently used. We show that the tropical continents differ in their responses and explore why they may differ, based on their prior disturbance, soil and functional diversity. Extratropical feedbacks may also now be becoming evident in observations, and we discuss the role of satellite CO2 in constraining positive and negative feedbacks to climate in the extratropics.

Speaker: David Schimel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. David Schimel is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, leading research focused on carbon-cycle climate interactions, combining models and observations.  For the previous five years, Schimel led the National Ecological Observatory Network project, was responsible for the top-level science design, site selection and observing system simulations.  From 2001-2007, Schimel was at the National Center for Atmospheric Research as a senior scientist, with research focused on assimilation of carbon cycle data in land and atmospheric models. From 1998-2001, Schimel served as founding Co-Director and Managing Director of the Max Planck Insitute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.  From 1990-1998, Schimel was at NCAR.  Schimel served as convening Lead Author for the first IPCC assessment of the carbon cycle, and has served as an IPCC CLA four times, and as a Lead Author twice. From 1988-1989, Schimel was an NRC Fellow at NASA Ames. Dr. Schimel obtained his PhD in 1982 from Colorado State University, studying atmosphere-ecosystem exchange of nitrous oxide and ammonia.

Feb. 15: Evidence for competition among salmon at sea

Pink salmon

Salmon scientists frequently focus research on the link between salmon production and oceanographic conditions, but there is growing evidence that intraspecific and interspecific competition are also important. Pink salmon represent nearly 70% of all adult salmon returning from the North Pacific Ocean (~670 million fish in 2009) and their abundance has doubled since the mid-1970s ocean regime shift. The fixed two-year life cycle of pink salmon and their strong alternating-year pattern of abundance provides a unique opportunity to test hypotheses about competition at sea. In this presentation, I review evidence for competition, including its effects on salmon growth, age-at- maturation, and survival. Much of the evidence involves sockeye salmon, which typically spend two or three winters at sea and have high diet overlap with pink salmon. There is also evidence that pink salmon impact the growth, age, and survival of other species, such as Chinook salmon. Finally, I conclude that this evidence has important implications for large-scale hatcheries, which may contribute to a Tragedy of the Commons.

staff_greg
Speaker
Dr. Greg Ruggerone
Natural Resources Consultants, Inc.
gruggerone@nrccorp.com

Dr. Greg Ruggerone has investigated population dynamics, ecology, and management of Pacific salmon in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest since 1979. Much of his earlier experience stems from activities as Project Leader of the Alaska Salmon Program, University of Washington. His research typically involves factors affecting growth, age at maturation, and survival of salmon in freshwater and marine habitats. Lately, this research has focused on species interactions in the ocean, especially competition between pink salmon and other salmon. He is past Chair of the Columbia River Independent Scientific Advisory Board and past Chair of the Independent Scientific Review Panel, and he currently serves as an independent science reviewer for the California WaterFix Project.

Feb 1, 2017 – Aligning coastal restoration with ecological and societal needs

Coastal habitats play critical ecological and societal roles in nearshore and estuarine systems.  Yet despite their importance, reefs, marshes and coastal forests around the world have been highly degraded and reduced to a small fraction of their historic extent.  In the United States and elsewhere, billions of dollars are being invested in coastal habitat restoration.  New policies emphasize planning processes that work across sectors and jurisdictions to fund projects that provide the greatest returns for people and nature.  As a result, state, county and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations and industry are facing hard questions about where to invest and how to set targets to meet these dual goals.  We have formed a multi-agency and NGO partner working group aimed at increasing understanding agency needs for decision-making, assessing past restoration projects, and developing achievable metrics and approaches for aligning ecological and social goals in future efforts.

Jonathan Grabowski, Ph.D.
J.Grabowski@northeastern.edu

Jon

 My research interests span issues in ecology, fisheries and conservation biology, social-ecological coupling, environmental policy, and ecological economics. I have used a variety of estuarine (oyster reef, seagrass, salt marsh, mud bottom) and marine (kelp bed, cobble-ledge) systems to examine how resource availability, habitat heterogeneity and predation risk affect population dynamics, community structure, and ecosystem functioning. Much of this work focuses on economically important species such as lobsters, cod, herring, monkfish, and oysters, and consequently is relevant for fisheries and ecosystem management. My lab also focuses on how habitat degradation and restoration influence benthic community structure, population structure, and the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels. In addition, we are interested in how fisheries management initiatives such as the design of closed areas, delineation of stock boundaries, fishing gear modifications, and quota setting impact fish population structure and fisheries productivity, essential fish habitat protection, community structure, and the social capital of stakeholders.

 

My lab’s research involves highly coupled social-ecological systems and integrates social and natural science approaches. For instance, we are examining the ecological consequences of shoreline hardening on ecosystem service provisioning while also investigating how the environmental connectedness of coastal residents influences their decision-making around this issue. We are also examining factors that influence coastal fishing communities’ perceptions of and trust in management to help improve their buy in and identify potential barriers. Finally, we are determining how factors such as urbanization and resource specialization influence the perceptions and values of coastal residents so that we can design more effective environmental policies around issues such as climate hazard preparedness and coastal habitat and resource management.

Wed. Jan. 11 – Alaska’s salmon and people in the (rapidly changing) 21st century

Elmendorf Salmon Viewing Platform

This talk is an informal sketch of the emergent State of Alaska’s Salmon and People (SASAP) initiative, jointly told by many of the project’s leads. In addition to providing listeners with an understanding of the SASAP process, we aim to provide insights into our own motivations for joining the work, sketches of work in our laboratories, and a general sense of the importance of salmon to the overall health of Alaska.

Presenters: Peter Westley, Jessica Black, Courtney Carothers, and Tobias Schwoerer

Peter Westley
Assistant Professor
College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Web: http://www.uaf.edu/sfos/people/faculty/detail/index.xml?id=76
Email: pwestley@alaska.edu

Carbon Neutrality at University California: The TomKat Project

Abstract

In 2013, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which declares that all ten campuses in the University of California will have zero net emissions by the year 2025. Through a generous donation from the TomKat Foundation and supplemental funding from the University of California Office of the President, two groups of researchers have assembled to help address different facets of this multidimensional initiative. These two teams of the TomKat Project are hosted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and supported by the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UCSB.

The Exit Strategies for Natural Gas working group is focusing on the challenge of eliminating natural gas emissions from the ten UC campuses and their medical centers. This is made difficult by the lock-in situation that exists at six campuses which rely on cogeneration power plants for heating and power. The Net-Zero Comm Strategy working group will work to develop and test best communication techniques for the University of California to achieve zero net emissions by 2025. This process will involve performing audience research on key stakeholders at the University of California, testing messages, and analyzing barriers to gaining support for the Carbon Neutrality Initiative.

 

Speakers

celine
Celine Mol is an undergraduate student at UC Santa Barbara, where she is graduating this coming June with a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics and Applied Probability. In her future, Celine would like to be able to use her strengths in data science to find solutions that demand a more sustainable future. Through the Net-Zero Comm Strategy Working Group, Celine is excited to focus on approaches to leveraging influencers and developing outreach and engagement strategies to implement a successful carbon neutrality model at the UC.

charlie
Charlie Diamond is a second year MESM student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. He has an undergraduate degree in environmental economics, and is specializing in water resources management at the Bren School. Charlie is interested in water and climate policy in California, and feels lucky to be part of an exciting research effort to evaluate decarbonization strategies at the University of California as a TomKat intern.

evan
Evan Ritzinger is serving as an Intern for the TomKat Project on strategies for natural gas removal. He is a Master’s candidate of Environmental Science and Management at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara, where he is pursuing a dual specialization in Conservation Planning and Energy & Climate. His research interests include energy efficiency and climate change mitigation. Previously, Evan worked for roughly two years as a Home Energy Advisor for a Boston based energy efficiency firm, where he was certified as a Building Analyst under the Building Performance Institute and performed hundreds of energy audits. Evan received his B.A. in Environmental Science with a minor in Economics from Boston University.

jay
Jay McConagha is a second year MESM student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. He is specializing in Energy & Climate while completing a focus in Strategic Environmental Communication & Media. As an intern with the Net-Zero Comm Strategy working group, Jay is interested in identifying and overcoming barriers to the goals of the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, and fostering support through strategic communication.

 

TomKat Foundation
Established in 2009 by Tom Steyer and Kathryn Taylor, the TomKat Foundation partners with innovative organizations that envision a world with climate stability, a healthy and just food system, and broad prosperity. The Foundation embraces the inherent interconnectedness of these complex systems. Working at every level, the TomKat Foundation is committed to supporting organizations and initiatives across the country that will take bold action on climate change.

An evolving vision for the next generation of NCEAS [Wed. June 15]

As I am about to step into the role of Director at NCEAS, I wanted to share my ideas, plans, and vision for where I’d like to take NCEAS in the next few years as well as get your feedback and ideas. I’ll give a short, informal presentation and then open things up to discussion.

Please join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States : +1 (408) 650-3123
Access Code: 256-304-101

 

Benjamin S. Halpern

halpern

Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
halpern@bren.ucsb.edu

Deputy Director, Nat’l. Center for Ecol. Anal. & Synth. (NCEAS)
735 State St., Suite 300, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Chair in Marine Conservation, Imperial College London

Director, Center for Marine Assessment and Planning (CMAP)

Senior Fellow, UN Envir. Prog.- World Conserv. Monitor. Cent. (UNEP-WCMC)