By Vicky Vásquez
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Western Society of Naturalists (WSN) meeting as well as the 50th for Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). Fittingly, this year’s WSN conference saw MLML emeritus professor, Dr. Michael Foster, receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for crucial work studying the population and community ecology of marine macroalgae.
Six of MLML’s specified laboratories were represented by students, past and present, as well as one faculty member at this year’s WSN conference. A total of 21 presentations were given with 10 being oral presentations and 11 being posters; 11 MLML alumni presented, 12 current students and 1 faculty member. They Phycology and Invetebrate labs led the pack with the most presentations. Below is a list of highlights from those presentations.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and emeritus MLML faculty of phycology, Dr. Mike Foster
Jennifer A. Chiu, Fisheries & Conservation Biology: Lesson from 10 Years of Collaborative Fisheries Research in MPAs
Since this project uses volunteer anglers from the community for fish density assessments within MPAs (Marine Protected Areas), the analysis factors in angler expertise as a potential caveat to results where more fish where collected on some occasions versus others.
Pamela Neeb Wade, alumni of the Invertebrate Zoology: The Effect of a Non-Native Species on Juvenile Olympia Oysters in the Elkhorn Slough Estuary
Studied the Olympia Oysters (Ostrea lurida) of Elkhorn Slough which provide genetic connectivity between the populations to the south and north. Ms. Neeb Wade is also a recent MLML graduate who is currently employed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a Senior Education Specialist.
Robert A. San Miguel, alumni of the Phycology Lab: Population Genetic Structure of the Bull-Kelp Nereocystis luetkeana
Mr. San Miguel affectionately referrs to Nereocystis luetkeana, an understudied species, as the Cinderella of the macroalgae (large kelps). Shortly after this presentation, he officially defended his thesis at MLML on the gametophyte (stage of sexual reproduction in an kelp's life cycle) fitness and costs of self fertilization of Macrocystis pyrifera.
Cheryl L. Barnes, alumni of the Fisheries & Conservation Biology: A Comparative Assessment of Resource Use by Pacific Halibut and Arrowtooth Flounder from Nearshore Waters of Southeast Alaska
Ms. Barnes studied Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) as part of her Master thesis at MLML. A clever part of her current study of diet comparisons between Pacific Halibut and Arrowtooh Flounder (Atheresthes stomias) not only considers body size, but also the influence of mouth gapes on prey size.
Cody J. Dawson, Phycology Lab: Physical and Chemical Response to Disturbance by the Fucoid, Stephanocystis osmundacea
Mr. Dawson is using SCUBA diving to design an underwater experiment to study how sensitive these perennial fucoids (a type of brown algae) are to senescence (the gradual deterioration of function).
Steven R. Cunningham, Phycology Lab: Decoupling Physical from Biogenic Effects of the Giant Kelp Macrocystis pyrifera on POC Distribution in a Kelp Forest
The methods for this project required the massive assembly of 30ft long artificial kelp and 30-40 volunteers. The process for which demonstrated the high level of comradery among students to support each other’s thesis work.
Melinda Wheelock, Invertebrate Zoology: Shifting Species Boundaries: Native and Introduced Mussels (Mytilus Spp.) on the Pacific Coast
Ms. Wheelock has been spending her time under the docks, literally! Her exploration of fouling communities in local harbors is part of how she's monitoring the presence of native and non-native mussel species.
Lindsay M. Cooper, Phycology Lab: Storage Mechanisms of Pterygophora californica: How an Understory Kelp can Recover from Disturbance and Thrive
Catherine A. Drake, Invertebrate Zoology: Sexual and Ontogenetic Variation in Decoration Choice of the Masking Crab, Loxorynchus crispatus
Heather Fulton-Bennett, alumni of the Phycology Lab: Reproductive Consequences of Morphological Variation in Egregia Menziesii
Scott Gabarra, alumni of the Invertebrate Zoology: Rhodolith Bed Community Structure and Energy Flow at Santa Catalina Island, CA
Heather E. Kramp, Ichthyology Lab: Kelp Forest Fish Community Productivity on Nearshore Reefs Along the California Coast
Evan G. Mattiasen, Ichthyology Lab: Effects of Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia on Behavior and Physiology of Rockfishes (Sebastes Spp.)
Stephen Pang, Ichthyology Lab: The Effect of Male Limitation on the Reproductive Output of the Bluebanded Goby (Lythrpynus dalli)
June Shrestha, Ichthyology Lab: Fish-derived Nutrients in Kelp Forests: The Influence of Marine Reserves on a Hidden Nitrogen Source
Kenji J. Soto, Benthic Ecology Lab: Habitat preferences of invertebrates in the near vent environment of the Lau Basin
Victoria Elena Vásquez, Pacific Shark Research Center: ‘It’s Hammertime!': Uncovering the Secrets of an Iconic Shark with Citizen Science