Thesis Defense by Bonnie Brown – March 31 Livestream


"Geographic and Ontogenetic Variation in the Trophic Ecology of Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) Along the U.S. West Coast"
A Thesis Defense by Bonnie Brown

The Fisheries and Conservation Biology Lab

MLML Live-Stream | March 31, 2021 at 12 pm

Thesis Abstract:

Dietary studies of fishes provide an understanding of predator-prey interactions and may be used to inform resource managers about food web dynamics. Along the West Coast of North America, Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) are top marine predators in rocky-reef habitats and an economically important fishery. In this study, gut content and stable isotope analyses were used to evaluate differences in the diets of Lingcod collected along the U.S. West Coast (Alaska to Southern California) in 2016 and 2017.  Overall, Lingcod consumed a wide variety of prey and exhibited both generalist and opportunist feeding strategies. Significant variability in Lingcod diets were driven by factors such as depth, region, sex, and total length. Small, shallow water, male Lingcod consumed more lower trophic level prey items (e.g. cephalopods) and had less diverse diets. Large, deep water, female Lingcod consumed more higher trophic level prey items (e.g. gadids) and had more diverse diets. Geographic variation in trophic level was associated with environmental conditions of primary productivity (i.e., chlorophyll a), and sea surface temperature. Southern Lingcod fed more on cephalopods while northern Lingcod fed more on various fish groups. This study fills in data gaps in the trophic ecology of a top marine predator and can be used to inform food web models and fisheries management.

Virtual Seminar – The chemical ecology of sponges on Caribbean reefs: From metabolites to ecosystems – March 25


Joseph Pawlik, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Hosted by the Invertebrate Ecology Lab

Presenting: "The chemical ecology of sponges on Caribbean reefs: From metabolites to ecosystems"

MLML Virtual Seminar | March 25th, 2021 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here or here




Dr. Joe Pawlik is a Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at UNCW. He received his BS in 1982 from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and his PhD in Marine Biology in 1988 from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD.  He joined the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at UNCW in 1991, where he teaches undergraduate courses in Invertebrate Zoology and Biodiversity, teaches Introduction to Science as a Profession to graduate students, and directs a research program involving undergrad, MS and PhD students. Joe worked at the US National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Program Officer in the Biological Oceanography Program for 2 years beginning 2003. He and his students and collaborators have authored over 160 publications, primarily on the ecology of sponges on Caribbean coral reefs. Check out a list of his publications here.


Research faculty member Dr. Diana Steller leads innovative rhodolith research project

The picturesque harbors of Catalina Island are the perfect habitat for rare coral-like red algae known as rhodoliths. Like corals, these algae form calcium carbonate ‘skeletons’ that grow in spherical branching patterns. Then in the gentle wave action of semi-protected harbors, the rhodoliths roll around on the ocean floor like tumbleweeds, forming into spheres, with pockets of open space between the branches.

“They form living layers that look like pink golf balls covering the ocean floor,” explains SJSU/MLML research faculty member Dr. Diana Steller, who led a recent California Sea Grant-funded project on Catalina’s rhodolith beds. “Rhodoliths form a structured habitat on what is otherwise normally soft sediment bottoms—a complex matrix of shapes and sizes for things to find refuge in."

"And because they form a hard structure that's heterogeneous, a lot of organisms can settle, survive better and live there. They act often as nursery grounds, and/or habitat for holdfast of different species,” she adds.

Learn more about Dr. Steller’s fascinating research in new story from California Sea Grant.

Virtual Seminar – Drivers of change in estuarine-coastal ecosystems – March 18


James Cloern, US Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA

Hosted by the Physical and Biological Oceanography Labs

Presenting: "Drivers of change in estuarine-coastal ecosystems"

MLML Virtual Seminar | March 18th, 2021 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here or here




James (Jim) Cloern is a senior scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. His research over four decades addresses comparative ecology and biogeochemistry of estuaries to understand how they respond as ecosystems to climatic-hydrologic variability and human disturbance. His team investigation of San Francisco Bay included studies of primary production, nutrient cycling, algal and zooplankton community dynamics, ecosystem metabolism and food web dynamics, disturbance by introduced species, ecosystem restoration, and past and projected future responses to a changing climate. His career achievements have been recognized with selection as Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and as recipient of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution B.H. Ketchum Award, Delta Science Program Brown-Nichols Achievement Award, ASLO Ruth Patrick Award, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Odum Lifetime Achievement Award, and Department of Interior's Distinguished Service Award. He is currently an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a member of the Delta Stewardship Council's Independent Science Board, and editor-in-chief of Limnology and Oceanography Letters.


Thesis Defense by Taylor Eddy – March 19 Livestream


"Multiscale habitat use and effects of resource availability on California Spiny Lobster (Panulirus interruptus) population success"
A Thesis Defense by Taylor Eddy

The Invertebrate Zoology Lab

MLML Live-Stream | March 19, 2021 at 4 pm

Thesis Abstract:

Habitat use can affect ecological and biological processes, such as resource use, survival, and reproduction. For many species, habitat use can vary with season as their energetic needs change, for example increasing foraging area in the energetically costly reproductive season. In this study, we sought to understand the seasonal and temporal scales of spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) habitat use in a southern California ecosystem by integrating habitat surveys using GIS (Global information system), lobster demographic surveys, and diet analysis using stable isotopes. We focused on the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) because the species uses a variety of habitats at different seasonal and spatial scale and is economically and ecologically important. Results indicated that Bird Rock had a higher density of lobsters than Big Fisherman Cove and intertidal habitat recorded higher density of individuals than subtidal habitat at both sites during nocturnal high tides. At Bird Rock, the proportion of females to males, and the reproductive condition of the females is greater than that at Big Fisherman Cove. I detected a distinct seasonal change in the diet of spiny lobsters, such that a higher diversity of prey resources were consumed in the summer than in the winter during nighttime high tide movement from the subtidal to the intertidal, specifically lobsters at Bird Rock foraged on the mussel beds that are present at the site. Seasonal foraging in the intertidal habitat acts as a diet subsidy for the spiny lobsters during the reproductive season, a time of high energetic cost. The differences in the reproductive condition of the population are likely due to the presence of the mussel bed at Bird Rock, which is a valuable prey resource for many species of lobster. Understanding fine scale spatial and seasonal habitat needs of target species can help create better protected areas, not only for the spiny lobster, but other critically important species.

Grad student Kristin Saksa interviewed by MLML alumna Emily Donham ’16 on the Santa Cruz Naturalist podcast

This week on the Santa Cruz Naturalist podcast on KSQD Radio, host and SJSU/MLML alumna Emily Donham ’16 sits down with current Ichthyology Lab grad student Kristin Saksa to discuss all things rockfish. Kristin’s research focuses on how climate change stressors will impact larval rockfish. 

Find the episode on the KSQD website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Alumna Erin Loury ’11 featured in Diversity in Action magazine

During her tenure at MLML, alumna Erin Loury ’11 researched the impacts of marine protected areas (MPAs) on the trophic ecology of gopher rockfish. In the decade since she graduated, Erin has conducted research on fisheries throughout the world and now works as the Communications Director & Fisheries Biologist at the environmental consulting company FISHBIO.

Erin’s marine science career path is one of several highlighted in the latest issue of Diversity in Action magazine. Read the article here.

Virtual Seminars – Plugged in: Novel seafloor sensor development on the OOI Cabled Array – March 11


Michael Vardaro, University of Washington & SJSU

Hosted by the Geological Oceanography Lab

Presenting: "Plugged in: Novel seafloor sensor development on the OOI Cabled Array"

MLML Virtual Seminar | March 11th, 2021 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here or here




Mike Vardaro has worked with the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) since 2011; four years as a Project Scientist at Oregon State University focusing on designing, testing, and deploying the Endurance Array off the coast of Oregon and Washington, three years as the Data Manager at Rutgers, working with the Cyberinfrastructure (CI) team on monitoring and evaluating data to create quality-controlled data streams for the OOI user community, and currently as a Research Scientist at the University of Washington, working on the Regional Cabled Array. He is also a lecturer at San Jose State University. Prior to working with the OOI, he designed and deployed photographic and oceanographic instrumentation in the Gulf of Mexico, Northeastern Pacific, and Southeastern Atlantic oceans to study the links between surface productivity, carbon flux, and deep benthic invertebrate populations, and how such systems change over time. He has a BS in Biology from Georgetown University, an MS in Biological Oceanography from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

New study co-authored by MLML Visiting Scientist Scott Shaffer sheds light on endangered seabirds and the need for international protection

A new study published in the prestigious journal Science Advances co-authored by MLML Visiting Scientist & SJSU Biological Sciences Professor Scott Shaffer highlights the need for cooperative global protection of wide-ranging seabirds such as albatrosses and large petrels.

An international team of researchers tracked the movements of 5,775 individual seabirds belonging to 39 species across 87 different sites. They found that the albatrosses and petrels spent at least 39% of their time on international waters where no single country has jurisdiction. Collaborative multinational conservation efforts will thus be needed to adequately protect these globetrotting seabirds.

Read more about this important research in the SJSU Newsroom story

Black-footed albatrosses photographed by Dr. Scott Shaffer

Virtual Seminar – Science without borders: tracking the tropicalization of kelp forests in the Californias – March 4


Rodrigo Beas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Hosted by the Phycology Lab

Presenting: "Science without borders: tracking the tropicalization of kelp forests in the Californias"

MLML Virtual Seminar | March 4th, 2021 at 4pm

Watch the Live Stream here or here




Predicting changes in structure & function of ecosystems requires large-scale, long-term studies. We integrate kelp forest data from 469 sites/373 species spanning Alaska, USA, to Baja California, Mexico. Results revealed changes in community structure were most evident within the southern and north-central ecoregions, and forecast a poleward shift in the abundance of habitat-forming groups. All this was only possible with a sweeping display of international coordination and cooperation of a team of scientists and countless volunteers from 14 different organizations joining forces to document the northward migration of kelp forests due to warming waters. This is an excellent example of collaboration between researchers, communities, and civil society organizations in the USA and Mexico to understand how climate change will impact the kelp forest and therefore fisheries and coastal communities in the next 30 years.


About the speaker:

Rodrigo Beas-Luna is an Associate Professor at Facultad de Ciencias Marina, UABC. He is a marine ecologist-oceanographer, who combines field observation, lab work and quantitative tools to better understand the functioning of energy transfer among trophic levels and ecosystem responses to different environmental conditions. 


Dr. Rodrigo Beas Presents: “Science without borders: tracking the tropicalization of kelp forests in the Calirfornias”